FarmWise and Roush Join Forces to Develop and Test Autonomous Vegetable Weeders

The initial contract between ​FarmWise​ and ​Roush​ includes the development of a dozen of prototypes of the self-driving robots in 2019, with scaling to additional units in 2020. Photo: FarmWise

San Francisco-based start-up FarmWise and Michigan manufacturer Roush are working together to develop and test autonomous vegetable weeders in Michigan.

“Michigan is well-known throughout the world for its manufacturing and automotive industries, the advanced technology expertise and state-of-the-art manufacturing practices,” said Thomas Palomares, co-founder and chief technology officer of FarmWise, according to a news release. “These are many of the key ingredients we need to manufacture and test our machines. We were connected to Roush through support from PlanetM, and as a technology startup, joining forces with a large and well-respected legacy automaker is critical to support the scale of our manufacturing plan.”

Through the collaboration, the companies will develop a dozen prototypes of the robots in 2019, with plans to scale in 2020. The autonomous farming robots will provide high-precision weeding and thinning and will have the ability to replace herbicides. They’ll be able to work around the clock, helping to save costs on labor and reduce yield. The robots also will be able to adapt to different crops, helping to improve efficiencies on farms.

“Technology is rapidly transforming every industry across the globe,” Roush CEO Evan Lyall said. “The agricultural industry may be one of the most in need to make bold new advances to create efficiencies and produce safer products for consumers. We work with the best engineers to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-life products as we test these tractors in the field.”