- Burro (formerly known as Augean Robotics) announced recently that it raised a $10.9 million Series A round of funding. These are the details.
Burro (formerly known as Augean Robotics) — an autonomy company providing solutions for the agriculture industry — announced it has raised a $10.9 million Series A. This round of funding was led by S2G Ventures and Toyota Ventures with F-Prime Capital and the Cibus Enterprise Fund joining, along with existing investors including Radicle Growth and ffVC.
Burro robots are known as the first step towards an autonomous future where robots do work outdoors that people no longer want to do. And Burros enable growers to boost profitability and mitigate labor shortages today by working collaboratively to force multiply workers while also laying the foundation for more comprehensive automation tomorrow.
The growers of labor-intensive specialty crops like table grapes, berries, and nursery crops are largely un-mechanized and therefore out of necessity employ 88% of United States crop workers to do a diverse set of hard-to-mechanize tasks. And this workforce has shrunk rapidly in recent years.
For example, California — where the bulk of specialty crops in the U.S. are grown — has seen a 40% decline in the number of farmworkers over the past decade, driven by the strenuous nature of farm labor, increasing regulations, and rising wages. And in the face of this crisis, growers are searching for autonomous systems that can reduce their labor needs, but virtually nothing is available commercially today.
With the Series A funding, Burro plans to address this need by expanding to over 500 robots next year to meet demand from both existing and new customers. And to drive this growth, the company is dramatically increasing the size of its team, while also expanding the capabilities of its product. Along with adding the dexterity needed to pick table grapes, Burro will also extend its mobility autonomy into nursery and berry markets.
Burro is known as the only plug-and-play autonomous people-scale robot available that increases productivity in conventional production environments. And Burros feature a novel and patent-pending approach called Pop Up Autonomy — which means they work immediately out of the box by enabling everyone in a working environment to become an operator. They do not require a centralized control or installation of burdensome infrastructure. Instead, these robots use computer vision and AI to learn on the fly and to navigate autonomously from A to B while carrying various payloads.
Now Burro has 90 robots in table grape fields covering 100-300 miles a day autonomously, six days a week. And instead of each farmworker walking several miles a day with a 250-pound wheelbarrow full of grapes in the heat, farmworkers can stand in the shade and pick/pack with a continuous flow of fruit out of the field. Burros are already transforming worker productivity with one Burro enabling 6-plus people to harvest up to 48% more fruit per day for a less than two month ROI.
Burro is already scaling in the $3 billion table grapes market and looking to expand into berries and nursery crops. And it eventually aims to tackle the $1.2 trillion in US outdoor labor where automation can address some of the industry’s most pressing challenges. Burro’s robots are modular and built to scale. And now the product is the first step in a fully autonomous farm stack: robots that can navigate anywhere, perceive everything, and use dexterity to do increasingly complex work outdoors.
As part of the funding round, Sanjeev Krishnan will join the Board of Directors at Burro.
“Many autonomy companies beginning in agriculture have focused first on autonomous tractors, autonomous weeding, and harvesting, where they try to comprehensively automate incredibly hard technical tasks, and often struggle to scale into a large market – we’ve started instead with collaborative people-scale robots that help people by moving heavy things around. The beauty of this approach is that we can scale today around a ubiquitous pain point in the most labor-intensive areas of agriculture, while also allowing our platform to capture data and learn about many environments – providing the foundation for us to scale to countless other applications.”
— Charlie Andersen, CEO of Burro
“Charlie and the Burro team have big plans to drive their product roadmap from a growing customer base, harden their technology through real-world use, and offer extended platform services that farmers need every day. Burro is already gaining traction in the big, broken but increasingly accessible agricultural market.”
— Jim Adler, Founding Managing Director at Toyota Ventures
“Burro’s product is in high demand because the team is hyper-focused on understanding and solving real agriculture use cases in a way that is simple and accessible. We are thrilled to back Charlie and the team at Burro as they work side-by-side with growers to improve the social, environmental and economic outcomes of farm operations.”
— Sanjeev Krishnan, Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer at S2G Ventures