Robotics & Automation News

Market trends and business perspectives

Spacetime Labs and Small Robot Company to develop swarm robotics for agri-business in Latin America

SpaceTime Labs and Small Robot Company are partnering to co-develop swarms of fourth generation autonomous aerial and terrestrial robots to “transform” Latin American agriculture with “per plant farming solutions”.

The strategic partnership will focus on co-developing an on the ground, end-to-end “per plant” planting, weeds, pests and disease management and nutrition management “farming as a service” value propositions delivered through an integrated delivery “sense-predict-act” value chain for all key commercial crops in Latin America.

The companies will work with leading Brazilian and Argentinian farmers to prototype, test and scale Per Plant Farming – maximising yields whilst reducing the impact on the environment.

Agriculture is a $5 trillion industry, with the precision farming market a huge global opportunity for investors. Goldman Sachs predicts that the market for digital agricultural technology will be $240 billion by 2050, up from just over $5 billion today.

The first intended outcome of Per Plant farming is a dramatic uplift in yields. Per plant farming exists today on a small scale in research institutes and in trial farms, where scientists are able to achieve yields which are 235 percent higher than the in-field commercial average for wheat and 150 percent higher than the in-field commercial average for corn.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured with the ‘Tom’ robot

In addition to increasing yields, “per plant” farming will increase farmer profitability and dramatically reduce the negative impacts of industrial farming on the environment.

SpaceTime Labs is a leading Brazilian artificial intelligence company founded in 2014 that develops and operates automated platforms for planning, optimization and risk management of resource-intensive sectors exposed to climate and water risk.

SpaceTime Labs believes that the future of agriculture will need to be carbon negative, hyper resource-efficient, in harmony with and inspired by Nature and resilient to climate extremes.

This will require automating a “sense-predict-act value chain” that acts upon the many operational biotic and abiotic variables that are responsible for yield productivity gains and losses at a plant and field level – leveraging AI, Computational Biology and Robotics technologies – so that customized agronomic solutions at plant and field levels can be deployed at scale with the right service delivery and performance-based models.

Small Robot Company is a British agritech start-up for sustainable farming. Using robotics and artificial intelligence, Small Robot Company has created an entirely new model for ecologically harmonious, efficient and profitable food production.

Its three farmbots – named Tom, Dick and Harry – will farm each plant individually, exponentially increasing biodiversity and increasing yields. Small Robot Company believes this Per Plant Farming model will become the dominant agricultural system by 2040.

It is building a farming service designed by farmers for farmers that uses robotics and AI to deliver this vision. Its first commercial service for weed mapping launched in November 2019, with non-chemical weeding trials now under way.

Founded in 2017, it already has commercial robots developed, with a small fleet going onto farms this autumn.

Juan Carlos Castilla-Rubio, founder and chairman of SpaceTime Labs, says: “We believe that our strategic partnership with Small Robot Company will allow us to automate a ‘sense-predict-act’ delivery model that acts upon the many operational biotic and abiotic variables that are responsible for yield productivity gains and losses at a plant level leveraging AI, Computational Biology and Robotics technologies – so that our partner farmers in Latin America can have a step-change in performance across the board.”

Sam Watson-Jones, co-founder, Small Robot Company, says: “The opportunity is immense. Latin America is ahead of the curve for agritech innovation. Our strategic partnership with SpaceTime Labs means that we can now enter this market with confidence.

“Now is the time for us to work together to create a more sustainable farming model in Latin America, starting with Brazil and Argentina. The recent huge advances in agtech finally make this possible and farmers are integral to the environmental solution.”

Liz Truss, the UK government’s international trade secretary, says: “The UK is a world leader in technology and is at the forefront of the Agri-Tech industry.

“We have pioneering scientists and expert farmers, so it’s fantastic to see British businesses like the Small Robot Company reach international markets and develop new innovative technology for Latin American farmers. This is just one great example of the global trading opportunities out there for UK agri-tech industry.”

Main picture: The Harry robot being unveiled at REAP 2018 by Sam Watson Jones and Belinda Clarke. Picture by StillVision Photography.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *