Frontier IP, a specialist in commercialising intellectual property, today announces that Robert Bosch Limited ("Bosch") has entered into an agreement to work with portfolio company Fieldwork Robotics ("Fieldwork" or the "Company") to accelerate the development of its novel robot technology to harvest soft fruit and vegetables.
Bosch UK will collaborate with Fieldwork's engineers to optimise the Company's soft robotic arms and develop software aimed at reducing the arms' cost and increasing their speed.
The objective is to move into full-scale production through the University of Plymouth spin out Fieldwork. The agreement between Fieldwork and Bosch is a significant step forward in the commercialisation of the technology.
Frontier IP holds a 26.9 per cent equity stake in Fieldwork, a holding valued at GBP1,355,000 following the completion in January 2020 of an initial equity funding round for the Company.
This agreement between Fieldwork and Bosch represents a further deepening of Frontier IP's relationship with Bosch, a leading global supplier of technology and services that employs approximately 400,000 associates worldwide. Another Group portfolio company Pulsiv Solar is working with Bosch to optimise the design of its energy-efficient solar micro-inverter.
Fieldwork is initially focused on developing robots to harvest raspberries - they are more delicate, more easily damaged than other soft fruits, and grow on bushes with complex foliage and berry distribution. Fieldwork, together with the University of Plymouth, is also developing proof-of-concept robots for other crops following interest from leading multinational agribusinesses.
The Company is using the GBP298,000 raised in the January funding round to accelerate development and scale up of its robotic technology.
Work to date has also been supported by a GBP547,250 Innovate UK grant as part of a GBP671,484 project to develop the multi-armed robot prototype. Other partners in the project included the University of Plymouth and the National Physical Laboratory.
Fieldwork was incorporated to develop and commercialise the work of Dr Martin Stoelen, who splits his work between the University of Plymouth, where he lectures in robotics and leads the Soft and Adaptive Robotics lab, and as an Associate Professor at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences.
Dr Stoelen has also led projects to develop a cauliflower harvesting robot systems and a tomato picker, a project run in partnership with the Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
Jenny Patten, Head of Business Development for Bosch UK, said: "To accelerate the development of technology that has the potential to improve people's quality of life and work, it is incredibly important that organisations - big and small - collaborate, making the best use of skills, knowledge and resources. To this end Bosch UK are very pleased to expand our relationship with Frontier IP and support Fieldwork Robotics in the development of their robotic arm for harvesting soft fruit and vegetables."