Robot company crowdfunds for commercial farmbot fleet

The Small Robot Company has launched a further £700,000 crowdfunding campaign to allow it to roll out its commercial weed mapping services on a wider scale and to finance field trials of its non-chemical weeding robot.

The company announced in November 2019 that its monitoring robot, known as Tom, had moved beyond prototype stage, enabling it to offer a commercial weed mapping service this growing season.

The crowdfunding campaign will allow the manufacture of a fleet of new Tom farmbots for use across British farms.

See also: Hundreds of farmers invest in Small Robot Company 

The money raised will also be used to finance field trials of the weed control robot, Dick, designed to kill weeds autonomously without using chemicals.

So far, the business has raised £547,000 of its £700,000 target, with the largest single investment being £50,000.

The Small Robot Company has secured more than £2.5million in funding to date, including £1.2m from a previous crowdfunding campaign, and more than £1m in government Innovate UK grants.

Major milestone

Sam Watson-Jones, one of the company’s co-founders, said: “Since our last raise, we have achieved our major delivery milestone of moving from proof of concept to commercially ready prototype.

“This next raise will help us to begin manufacturing our robots, as well as delivering our weed zapping technology.

“There is a huge amount of investment going into agri-tech at the moment, and Crowdcube opens this opportunity up for private investors.

“Almost a third of our previous £1.2m successful crowdfunding raise was from farmers, demonstrating the readiness of this industry to embrace change.”

The business plans to offer its services to farmers in the UK, US and Canada.

The Tom robot can cover 20ha a day autonomously, with the service priced at £15/ha.

The service will initially focus on broad-leaved weeds, and grass-type weeds, such as blackgrass, will follow later this growing season.

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