UK-based start-up Antobot has secured £1.2 million in its seed funding round following a strategic investment from Intron Technology Holdings Ltd – a leading Chinese automotive electronics solutions provider. The funding will enable Antobot to develop various full applications starting with its scouting robot, ‘Insight’.
Focusing initially on the £875 million UK fruit sector, Antobot’s ‘Insight’ robot travels autonomously through a farm and, using AI, gathers accurate, timely and rich data for deeper insight into crop yield, profile, and pest / disease management.
Insight is powered using Antobot’s fully integrated automotive-grade universal Robot Control Unit (uRCU®) – what the team calls “the brain of the robot”. The uRCU®’s sophisticated design combines the core hardware and advanced software for agri-robotic applications in one compact single unit.
Unlike manual scouting or scouting using large heavy machinery, Insight is powered by renewable energy and does not require any labour. Working with a selection of partner farms in England, Insight will be trialled in UK fields during the summer of 2021.
“The development of Insight has been directly informed by the experiences of our partner fruit-growers in the UK – their concerns over achieving the NFU’s 2040 Net Zero goal and the loss of agri-labour.” says Marc Jones, Antobot Business Director “Insight will provide accurate yield forecasts, real-time crop management and digitisation of the supply chain using this early growth-stage data, which can give growers greater weight in contract negotiations, decrease avoidable food waste and enable more efficient use of limited labour.”
From its inception, Antobot has been supported by various organisations including Agri-TechE, Agri-EPI, Innovate UK, Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative, St John’s Innovation Centre, ideaSpace of Cambridge University, and Anglia Ruskin University.
Antobot was the Champion of the Agri-EPI Agricultural Technology Hackathon in 2020 and was selected to join the REAP 2020 Start-up Showcase to spotlight its strengths. The Antobot team has three core members:
- Dr. Howard Wu, CEO – a chartered engineer who holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge.
- Dr. Mart Magi, Head of Robotics – a robotics expert with substantial industrial experience and a PhD from University College London.
- Dr. Daniel Freer, Head of Software – a specialist in computer vision and software with a PhD from Imperial College London.
The strategic investment from Intron Technology will provide valuable support in supply chain, manufacturing and quality assurance to bring Antobot’s uRCU® and Insight to market in 2022.
“We are strongly committed to Research and Development at Intron, particularly when promoting sustainability. And we are looking forward to working with Antobot, learning from each other, and helping Antobot grow into the leading force in the agricultural robotics sector we know it can be” concluded Eddie Chan, Co-CEO and Executive Director of Intron Technology