Roush To Build Autonomous Ag Robot Prototypes

By Chad Elmore28 March 2019

FarmWise and Roush have announced a collaboration to develop and test autonomous vegetable weeders in Michigan. The initial contract includes the development of a dozen of prototypes of the self-driving robots in 2019, with scaling to additional units expected in 2020.

“Michigan is well-known throughout the world for its manufacturing and automotive industries, the advanced technology expertise and state-of-the-art manufacturing practices,” said Thomas Palomares, co-founder and chief technology officer of San Francisco, Calif.-based FarmWise.

“These are many of the key ingredients we need to manufacture and test our machines. We were connected to Roush through support from PlanetM, and as a technology startup, joining forces with a large and well-respected legacy automaker is critical to support the scale of our manufacturing plan.”

Roush, a subsidiary of Roush Enterprises Inc., is a full-service product development supplier in Livonia, Mich. The company has been widely recognized for providing engineering, testing, prototyping and manufacturing services to the mobility, aerospace, defense and theme park industries. PlanetM is an initiative of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

As growers are looking for new ways to optimize crop production, FarmWise said it leverages the latest advances in artificial intelligence and robotics to offer plant-level farming as-a-service. The company is focused on developing adaptable machinery to help farmers increase productivity, grow healthier crops, and make food production more economically and environmentally sustainable.

The autonomous farming robots provide weeding and thinning and may be able to replace herbicides, said the company. They will also work reliably around the clock, 24/7, and adapt seamlessly to different crops, improving farming efficiency altogether. The machines are powered by a yet-to-be-announced 50 hp diesel engine.

“Technology is rapidly transforming every industry across the globe,” said Roush CEO Evan Lyall. “The agricultural industry may be one of the most in need to make bold new advances to create efficiencies and produce safer products for consumers. We work with the best engineers to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-life products as we test these tractors in the field. We’re proud to support industry pioneers like FarmWise to solve the burning issues farmers face while building the new paradigm for the future of food production.”

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