Naïo Technologies announced that it has raised $15.5 million to expand its autonomous farming robots to the United States later this year.
Based near Toulouse, France, Naïo makes a range of robots designed to improve farming efficiency while also reducing dependence on chemical pesticides and herbicides. While the company already has 150 robots deployed in Western Europe, Japan, and elsewhere in North America, it plans to enter the U.S. market later this year.
“We are convinced that in 10 years there will be robots in all the fields across Europe and North America,” said Naïo Technologies CEO and cofounder Aymeric Barthes in a statement. “Our challenge may seem ambitious, but thanks to the support of our partners and the agriculture ecosystem, our goal to ensure the ecological and social transition toward more sustainable farming seems more tangible than ever.”
Founded in 2011 by Barthes and Gaëtan Séverac, the company raised $3.5 million in 2015. The latest round of funding was led by Bpifrance. Naïo’s growth fits into a larger surge in agriculture technology funding as investors identify an opportunity to reinvent traditional farming methods.
Naïo’s electric robots can weed fields autonomously, which could could eliminate or reduce chemical use while also making farming more profitable overall.
The robots use a combination of computer vision and GPS to detect crop lines and distinguish weeds from valuable crops, such as vegetables or grape vines.
The company currently has 70 employees. With the new funding, it hopes to add up to 60 more jobs over the next three years.