On the way to more autonomous farms, several startups are realizing the potential of teleoperated robots. Agtonomy this week said it has raised an additional $5 million in a Seed II round, bringing its total funding to date to $9 million. The South San Francisco-based startup said it will use its latest financing to accelerate development and trials of its human-supervised platform to address the growing labor and sustainability challenges facing local agriculture.
“We find ourselves in a perfect storm as a global society with the challenges agriculture is facing,” said Tim Bucher, co-founder and CEO of Agtonomy. “Agtech solutions such as autonomous equipment and a technology-enabled labor force are needed now more than ever.”
Agtonomy said it is developing “a hybrid autonomy and tele-assist service platform” to help farmers and land maintenance operators the ability to automate tasks and increase efficiency. The company's executive team consists of veterans from the artificial intelligence, electric vehicle, cloud service, and agriculture industries.
The team has experience from companies such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft, Uber, Cruise, and Zoox, as well as from Northern California agriculture operations such as Trattore Farms.
Agtonomy platform widens workforce
Farmers must make continuous improvements, weather labor shortages, and reduce field-to-table timelines, all while working with tight budgets and seasonal challenges, said Agtonomy.
The company said its platform turns tractors and other equipment into autonomous machines providing a low-cost, technology-enabled labor force to remotely manage such equipment. By partnering with some of the most trusted names in agricultural OEM equipment, Agtonomy claimed that it will deliver immediate value and sustainability to local farmers.
In addition to accelerating development of its teleoperations technology, Agtonomy said it will use its latest funding round to expanding its team and industry partnerships.
Funding the future of local farming
Strategic and venture investors Toyota Ventures, Flybridge, Hampton VC (founded by Sam Parr and Joe Speiser), E²JDJ, and Momenta contributed to Agtonomy's Seed II round. Existing investors GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Grit Ventures also participated in the new round.
“Our commitment to sustainability and the future of autonomy, battery and EV technology makes Agtonomy a perfectly aligned investment for our growing portfolio,” stated Jim Adler, the founding managing director of Toyota Ventures. “We see huge potential in agtech and are making investments accordingly—fully autonomous vehicles will become a reality on farms, where they are desperately needed.”
“Agtonomy will be a key player in the delivery of technology to the local farming industry,” said Jesse Middleton, a general partner at Flybridge. “There are other companies successfully bringing crops to technology, such as our portfolio company Bowery Farming, and Agtonomy has identified a practical way to quickly bring technology directly to the crops.”
“We are excited to come on board to help the Agtonomy mission extend to Europe, where all regions face the same local ag challenges seen in the U.S.,” noted Michael Dolbec, managing partner at Momenta. “I see the potential ahead for Agtonomy and look forward to mobilizing future farmers, entrepreneurs, businesspeople and consumers who care deeply about building and choosing sustainable, healthy food sources to secure our collective future on the planet.”