Robotics Plus, a New Zealand-based agricultural robotics and automation company, has received US$8 million from Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd. (Japan). This was Yamaha’s second investment in the company – the first was in March, 2018 – bringing Yamaha’s total investment in the company to US$10 million.
Robotic Plus, best-known for its robotic Aporo apple pickers that suction 120 apples a day, plans to use the money for agro-technologies under development that include an autonomous agricultural vehicle, robotic pollinator, robotic harvesters, and crop estimator, among other undisclosed projects.
“Our core values of ‘he aronga nui’ (pioneering), ‘manaakitanga’ (collaboration), ‘tika me te pono‘ (principled) and ‘kaitiakitangi’ (stewardship),” said Steve Saunders, co-founder and chairman of Robotics Plus, “resonate with Yamaha Motor’s values. We have a common desire to meet future challenges to feed the world in a sustainable way with smart automation and intelligent robotics.”
The company, founded in 2013 by Alistair Scarfe and Steve Saunders (pictured), prides itself on developing innovative technology for labour shortages in the horticulture field and on increasing consumer demand for fresh fruit. Its website states it uses automation, vision, robotics and artificial intelligence to help solve other problems such as labour shortages, sustainability, pollination gaps, and yield security.
Over the last 18 months, Robotics Plus won the prestigious ANZLF Trans-Tasman Innovation and Growth Award, launched two commercial products, entered the U.S. and European markets, was named a finalist in four categories in the NZ Innovation Award, was profiled on national and international TV, and gleaned its US$10 million booty from Yamaha Motor Company.
As Dr Matt Glenn, CEO of Robotics Plus says: “If we want to solve the big agricultural issues of the future we need to support the horticultural and agricultural industries with innovative solutions that will enable them to do things differently.”
Last September, the company disclosed it expects its growth to continue at the same rate for the foreseeable future.