The Van Trump Report

Midnight Robotics Brings Autonomous Tractor Tech to Smart Farm Management Firm Fieldin

Agtech startup Fieldin, a smart farm operations management company, recently scooped up Midnight Robotics, which specializes in ain autonomous driving technology for agricultural applications. The tie-up will create what the companies say is a “first-of-its-kind combination of a sensor-based operational farming platform with autonomous driving technologies to empower growers in the day-to-day management of their farms.”

California-based Fieldin, which has been around since 2013, offers a smart farming cloud platform that utilizes sensor data to help optimize field activities like spraying and harvesting. The company touts itself as the largest smart farm operations management company in the U.S., with 30% of all U.S.-based lettuce crops and 20% of the world’s almonds running through its software. Midnight Robotics, which is only two years old, was founded by two veterans of LiDAR developer Innovitz. The company sells a retrofit kit, allowing farmers to turn almost any tractor into an autonomous machine through perception algorithms.

By utilizing LiDAR, Midnight solves a big issue for many autonomous driving systems – the lack of access to GPS data on many farms. The company began testing its retrofitting kits in vineyards and orchards first, because “they have the least room for error.” After perfecting its technology in these difficult settings, Midnight Robotics CEO Yonatan Horovitz said it was easy to use the same technology in open fields with much simpler setups.  

As part of the deal, Midnight Robotics’ tech will be integrated into Fieldin’s platform, which the company says will allow for guided decision-making and autonomous execution via driverless tractors and other machinery from within the same dashboard. The onboarding of Midnight’s autonomous tech takes under a day, according to Fieldin, with techs sent to the farm to do the retrofitting of tractors and any other farm machinery with LiDAR based autonomy kits. The technology also collects farming data that is fed back to the Fieldin platform in real-time.

Fieldin has digitized hundreds of farms and thousands of tractors and pieces of farming equipment. This data helps it to have insights into farming best practices. Boaz Bachar, CEO of Fieldin, believes Fieldin can provide farmers with invaluable insights into how to be more productive and that Midnight Robotics can build on that relationship with its retrofitting kits.

Both Horovitz and Bachar believe autonomous farming is the future of farming, even if we’re still far off from completely autonomous farms from being a reality. “The market for autonomous technology is still in its early days, but now, with the combination of management platforms, data, and autonomous technology, we believe most high-value crop farms will adopt these solutions in one to two years, creating a market worth billions of dollars in the U.S. alone,” said Bechar. Fieldin is deploying the unified platform to farms in California with plans to expand its use cases and operations, further develop the ‘autonomous op’ decision-making software, and expand even further globally. Learn more at Fieldin’s website HERE. (Sources: TechCrunch, ZDNet, FutureFarming)

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