Launching an agricultural AI startup requires identifying specific use cases, as well as which fruit and vegetable growers to work with. When Burro.ai built a robot that uses autonomous driving to ferry produce between workers, it chose to initially focus on table grapes.
By contrast, other agricultural AI startups like Ceres Imaging focused on high-value orchard crops like almonds and specialty crops like wine vineyards. Security drone maker Sunflower Labs is being used for automatic deployments on the perimeter of outdoor marijuana-growing operations.
Last month, the company began delivering its first commercially available robots to grape growers near Coachella, California. This builds on earlier work with the California Table Grape Commission and the Western Growers Association.
Now in its sixth generation, Burro ferries grapes from pickers in the field to packers putting grapes into clamshells or bags before the fruit gets loaded up and shipped to grocery stores.
Burro’s robots are being created specifically for industries reliant on human labor to pick produce, the opposite of farms that depend on a highly mechanized John Deere tractor, for example. A group of six robots can support a human crew of up to 60 people.
According to venturebeat.com, the company hopes to begin with grapes in the U.S. and eventually expand to vineyards in other parts of the world or to new crops.