Welcome to the future of farming. Root AI is a new a robotics and artificial intelligence startup that is aiming to transform the agricultural industry with its autonomous harvesting robots. According to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. farmers spend more than $34 billion a year on labor.
Most farmers rely on seasonal farm laborers from outside the U.S. to harvest their crops. This is about to change. Root AI just introduced Virgo, a self-driving robot designed to pick tomatoes. Virgo has inbuilt sensors, cameras that serve as its eyes, and artificial intelligence software that analyzes whether the tomato is ripe, and an arm with delicate “fingers” that swings out and snags the fruit right off the vine.
Virgo is equipped with lights on board and ability to navigate large commercial greenhouses any hour of the day or night, detecting which tomatoes are ripe enough to harvest. A “system-on-module” runs the Virgo’s AI-software brain. A robotic arm, with a dexterous hand attached, moves gently enough to work alongside people, and can independently pick tomatoes without tearing down vines.
Founded in 2018 by Joshua Lessing and Ryan Knopf, Root AI is a research company aiming to create intelligent robots that will help growers build the farms of the future. Root AI has raised a total of $2.3 million in funding over 1 round. This was a Seed round raised on Aug 8, 2018.
See Virgo in action below.