Muddy Machines, a UK-based robotics company, who showcased their innovations at this year's FPC Future and Careers on 16 March, has developed a team of five robotic harvesters called "Sprout" that will work together to pick British asparagus commercially in Herefordshire starting from April 1st.
The robots have been designed to work accurately for up to 16 hours a day and are expected to be able to replace a number of human laborers.
Muddy Machines' CEO, Florian Richter, said that this launch is a significant milestone for the company as it works towards its goal of offering harvesting as a service.
The firm hopes to partner with other tech companies to develop robotic harvesting platforms for other crops in the future.
The Sprout robots were manufactured in-house by the company after receiving a £1.5m seed funding round last August.
“Our seed funding round was to a large extent to secure the match funding to get our Innovate UK grants financed that were new last year,” Richter said.
“I can’t understate how important Innovate UK funding is for us. Because it plugs the funding gap where VCs [venture capital companies] want to see significant revenues, but as a robotics company, you kind of need robots to generate revenues, but need money to build the robots. And it’s something that you can’t do on a shoestring budget. So that’s been very, very important for us.”
According to Richter, Muddy Machines' future goal is to transform into a robotic harvesting platform for a variety of horticultural crops. To achieve this objective, the company is seeking partnerships with other technology firms.