Lettuce Weeding Robot Company Blue River Technology Expands Bid to Help Farmers Increase Efficiency
SUNNYVALE, CA – Silicon Valley-based Blue River Technology, makers of the LettuceBot weeding-robot, is looking to expand its operations and take its automated farming technology into new aspects of agriculture.
Blue River began in 2011 with a vision of producing tractor-mounted drones designed to decrease the use of herbicides. To do so, the company looked to selectively target and apply chemicals using computer vision and sophisticated machine-learning algorithms. According to online tech and business news source Inc., the company has since earned approximately $30 million in venture capital—including a $17 million Series B bid in late-2015 in which ag tech giants like Syrgenta and Monsanto invested.
"A lot of the opportunities out there are for people to use artificial intelligence to market, to do app placement or spam filters—to do things that are not quite as meaningful," CEO and Co-Founder Jorge Heraud told Inc., noting that improving food production is an important undertaking. "The biggest mega-problem facing agriculture is how do we clean up our act, maintain scalability so that we can feed everybody—and even those who are to come—but do it in a sustainable way."
The company was founded by Herauld and Lee Redden, who met in an entrepreneurship class at Stanford. Working from a garage, the two began to tackle automated weed abatement in the lettuce field, and by October of 2014, they had launched LettuceBot and began servicing customers like notable greens provider Tanimura & Antle.
"We conquered lettuce. We had a good product, and we started having revenue," said Herauld, who noted that the company is now looking to expand outward into new categories and improve herbicide application in a greater share of the industry.
Now that the tech-forward company is looking to broden its reach, will it bring similar solutions to other produce categories? For more on this and other cutting-edge companies in the fresh produce world, continue to follow AndNowUKnow.