Chinese agricultural drone company EAVision raises US$30 million

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Chinese agricultural drone and smart robotics company, EAVision Technologies, is a leader in autonomous crop protection with systems deployed in China, Japan, Korea, and Africa. Now the company has raised US$30 million in its Series C funding round.

The firm’s aerial unmanned vehicles (UAVs) combine autonomous navigation, AI visual recognition and precision spraying to enable crop protection even in challenging geographical environments and mountainous terrains. At the core of EAVision is an exceptional combination of stereo vision sensors and algorithms that enable its UAVs to navigate challenging environments.

EAVision drone navigating a hillside crop [Image source: EAVision]

UAVs and the challenge of hillside farming

In China, mountainous farming accounts for more than 34% of its cultivated land and is responsible for a vast variety of nut, fruit, and tea production. EAVision now makes it possible for these agricultural sectors to make profitable use of automation, despite the demanding geographical constraints.

When flying over hilly areas, EAVision UAVs provide exceptional stability. In mixed tree vegetation with variable gradients, superior object detection allows for safe navigation. These are coupled with its patented mist sprinkler that allows the vehicles to get as close as one meter to the crown of vegetation and enables targeted input application. The precision significantly reduces off-target environmental drift, improving producer wellbeing and supporting sustainability objectives.

EAVision’s UAVs advantages are proven in field applications across China, including in mountainous fruit farms where tree height variations are as much as 10 meters. The company reports that in one Southwest Chinese sugar cane farm trial, EAVision UAVs equalled the output of traditional manual labour but did so at fifty times the speed and boosted the sugar production level by 3%. In a further example a citrus farm in the Guangxi province showed a 90% improvement over traditional labour in preventing spider mites.

The Series C funding round

The latest investment round was led by Singapore-headquartered investment company Temasek, Chinese state-sponsored fund CITIC, and Chinese agrifood tech VC Bits x Bites. The remainder of the round comes from strategic investors such as BASF in Germany, Continental Grain Company in the US, and Chinese fresh fruit retailer Pagoda, in addition to financial investors such as Suzhou Oriza Holdings, among others. The funds will be used to enhance R&D and accelerate market expansion in China and overseas.

Joseph Zhou, managing partner of Bits x Bites, said: “UAVs are uniquely suited for China as its geographical characteristics make fixed-wing aircrafts or similarly large land-based machinery popular in the west less relevant. This lends an opportunity for technological innovators like EAVision to cater solutions for these farmers to grow more with less, safely and cost effectively. We are excited to work with the team to bring these benefits to growers across China and beyond.”

Shi Liang, chairman of the CITIC agri fund, said: “EAVision’s technology foundation helps bring targeted and precise farm management to vast, industrial-scale operations. We look forward to seeing the company advance its talent, technology and application roadmap and partnerships to achieve sustainable growth.”

Markus Solibieda, managing director of BASF Venture Capital GmbH, concluded: “EAVision has developed an innovative and highly sophisticated technology that has the potential to significantly improve efficiency in the application of crop protection products. We want to help them to develop their technology even further. This engagement reflects BASF’s commitment to sustainability and to the fast-growing innovative markets in Asia.”

 

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About Author

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Matt has worked in digital publishing for twenty years, holding management positions at Nature (nature.com) and William Reed Business Media (foodmanufacture.co.uk etc.). He has also worked with BBC Worldwide, Centaur Media, UKi Media and Mark Allen Group. Since 2010 Matt has been a digital consultant working with B2B media companies in the agricultural, automotive, aviation, robotics and technology sectors. As Chairman of his local allotment association Matt grows his own food whilst chasing the dream of a one tonne giant pumpkin. He is a member of the British Garden Media Guild and was a finalist in the Garden Media Guild Awards 'blog of the year' category in 2018 and 2019.

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