The Australian robotics startup Agerris has raised $4.6 million to further develop the abilities of its SwagBot farming robot. The key improvement is the adoption of AI software that runs the machine, instead of the previous remote-controlled system. The robot will be capable of not only identifying and eradicating weeds, but also of monitoring pastures and crops. SwagBot might even be able to herd cattle, putting farm dogs ‘out of business’. The product is set to hit the market in 2020.
The company is also developing a second robot called Digital Farmhand that will automate various tasks, including yield estimation, crop spraying, and weed removal. The machine will be designed to specifically fit the needs of smaller farms, and Agerris plans to make it price-competitive enough for the markets of developing countries. The commercial release is scheduled in 2020 in Australia, followed by global expansion. But before that happens, though, the engineers still have a lot of testing and development to do.