Autonomous tractor firm boosts funding

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Californian agtech firm Bear Flag Robotics has raised US$7.9 million in a seed extension funding round led by True Ventures, taking its total revenue raised to date to US$12.5 million. The company is developing autonomous technology for farm tractors, which it says will enable growers to increase productivity and improve safety on their farms. True Ventures led the round with participation from Graphene Ventures, AgFunder, D20 and Green Cow VC.

Founded in 2017 by Igino Cafiero and Aubrey Donnellan, Bear Flag hopes to increase global food production, while decreasing the cost of growing food through machine automation.

It notes that today’s growers are faced with the difficult proposition of increasing productivity with continuously rising costs and limited resources.

The company points to USDA research that suggests the farm labor pool is disappearing and increasing in cost, 10% year over year. Meanwhile, climate change is forcing growers to consolidate operations into shorter weather windows. Safety is also a pressing concern according to the company, which cites a CDC report that found tractor overturns and transportation incidents are the leading cause of death on US farms. Bear Flag Robotics is helping growers overcome these challenges rapidly and increase reliability and uptime on their farms, by improving safety, reliability and profitability.

The company provides the technology, services and support to enable autonomous tractor operations, helping growers produce more food with less resources. While the tractors run autonomously, human supervisors use Bear Flag’s software to monitor and command their fleet from a remote mission control room or personal device. The software plans optimal field patterns based on growers’ implements, and provides predictive and post-run analytics that enable growers to farm better each season.

Bear Flag Robotics is currently working with the largest produce and commodity growers in California and Arizona, using a direct-to-growers sales model to partner with customers. The latter ensures a high-quality standard while continuously releasing software capabilities that drive the most impact on the ground, according to the company. By linking seasonal data, Bear Flag can improve efficiency and lower costs through the entire growing season.

I absolutely love this team and their mission, but when their customers told us how much they loved their Bear Flag tractors, and how farmers from the region would see it in the field and come pay a visit, we knew that this was a special company,” said AgFunder partner, Rob Leclerc. “Bear Flag has the potential to be one of the most important companies in agriculture over the next decade.”

When we first invested in Igino and Aubrey, we saw an innovative, passionate team bringing automation to farms,” concluded Rohit Sharma, partner at True Ventures. “The impact of what Bear Flag Robotics delivers is meaningful every single day for farm operations, growers and consumers.

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