ecorobotix’s autonomous weeding robot
Ecorobotix began its success story with this first generation prototype of their weeding robot. There were different builds of this 130kg robot. This weeding robot was the company’s mechanical predecessor of today’s spray build AVO.
The robot was able to perform weeding duties autonomously and identify and treat weeds with herbicide without damaging crops. It was powered by solar panels and equipped with onboard cameras, GPS RTK, and sensors that allowed it to identify crops and chart its course of travel, and was estimated to cover up to three hectares of land per day, while using 30% less herbicide than traditional treatments. The ecoRobotix was scheduled to be commercially launched in 2019.
ecorobotix is a company based in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland. It plans to launch a fully autonomous weed killing robot. The robot is light in weight and price but heavy on weeds. Steve Tanner- a Micro technology engineer, came up with this idea about a decade ago and was later joined by businessmen Aurélien G. Demaurex. Abandoning the first project workplace at family barn in Essert-Pittet, they moved to use advanced facilities of Y-Start. Y-start is an incubator that position itself around regions of innovation and new technologies. This move increased the interest around the project and helped in growing the business. The robot will be primarily used for destroying the weeds by effective spraying of the chemicals.
Features of ecorobotix Generation 1 (and 2)
Back in 2016, the company claimed the farmer’s investment on the robot will pay off in 5 years. This claim comes because of the Robot’s highly efficient design and a long list of features such as:
- Autonomous operation
- GPS navigation
- Solar power (12 hours of working time)
- Light weight design
- Easy to transport on tractors
- 30 % cheaper than standard sprayer
- image detection
- 20x less herbicide
Ecorobotix offers a revolutionary data solution and high-precision spray system for treating individual plants, reducing the use of chemicals (herbicides, pesticides, liquid fertilizers) by 80-95% and increasing crop yields by more than 5%. The system has the potential to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture.
How the company started: After couple of years of coaching and scrutiny, EcoRobotix was given the CTI startup label-a quality seal awarded by Swiss Confederation after couple of years of coaching and scrutiny. In the year 2013, EcoRobotix, obtained its first loan from the Fondation pour l’Innovation Technologique (FIT) helping them in making its first protoype. Later on, the company received financial aid which helped them in improvising their technology. Almost before a year in November, the company was successful in raising 3 million Swiss Francs with investment from 4FO ventures, Investiere.ch, Business Angels Switzerland (BAS) and a number of others. These donations will help in production of the robots and launch its first sales in Switzerland and rest of the Europe.
This financial support permits us to complete the development of our machine and launch it on the market. It offers a concrete solution to both economic and ecological problems of the farming world, and makes it possible massively to reduce the use of chemical products,’ said a satisfied Aurélien G. Demaurex, co-founder of EcoRobotix.
The company was ranked among top 30 startups in Switzerland according to 2016 listing by PME magazine and Handelszeitung. In March 2017, company got its set of new robots. These robots would be put to work on a big farm to obtain test results and analyze it for further improvements if needed. The success of the company can further be measured by their recent achievement of being one of the five winners in Swisscom Startup challenge in 2017. Further, a second loan from FIT of CHF 500,000 did help EcoRobotix in starting the industrial production by 2018.
Serial production of AVO & ARA
The newest generation (built on top of the above generations) is the AVO robot. The AVO robot by ecorobotix is an autonomous, intelligent, and eco-friendly solution for spraying crops. It is powered by solar energy and has interchangeable batteries that allow it to work for up to 10 hours a day, covering up to 10 hectares.
A different product approach by ecorobotix is the ARA solution:
ARA is a UHP plant treatment solution that can be mounted on tractors, using high-resolution cameras and AI to detect individual plants in real-time, both crops and weeds. ARA’s ultra-precision sprayer targets areas of 6 x 6 cm with unparalleled accuracy, allowing for the treatment of individual plants without spraying the surrounding soil or crops. This surpasses conventional solutions that spray the entire field and is even stronger than the latest “intelligent” spraying devices that only target areas of 150 cm x 150 cm.