Livonia-based Roush and FarmWise, a Silicon Valley-based startup, are collaborating to develop and test a dozen autonomous vegetable weeder prototypes in Michigan this year. Additional units will be added in 2020.
The autonomous farming robots are designed to provide high-precision weeding and thinning with the ability to replace herbicides, save cost on labor, and increase yield. They also will work reliably around the clock and adapt seamlessly to different crops, improving farming efficiency altogether.
“Michigan is well-known throughout the world for its manufacturing and automotive industries, the advanced technology expertise and state-of-the-art manufacturing practices,” says Thomas Palomares, co-founder and chief technology officer of FarmWise. “These are many of the key ingredients we need to manufacture and test our machines. We were connected to Roush through support from PlanetM, and as a technology startup, joining forces with a large and well-respected legacy automaker is critical to support the scale of our manufacturing plan.”
Technology is rapidly transforming every industry across the globe, says Evan Lyall, CEO of Roush. “The agricultural industry may be one of the most in need to make bold new advances to create efficiencies and produce safer products for consumers,” he says.
“We work with the best engineers to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-life products as we test these tractors in the field. We’re proud to support industry pioneers like FarmWise to solve the burning issues farmers face while building the new paradigm for the future of food production.”
Trevor Pawl, group vice president of PlanetM, Pure Michigan Business Connect, and International Trade at the Michigan Economic Development Corp., says, “This collaboration showcases the opportunities that result from connecting startups like FarmWise with Michigan-based companies like Roush that bring their manufacturing know-how to making these concepts a reality.
“It is a great example of how Michigan can bring together emerging companies globally seeking prototype and production support with our qualified manufacturing base in the state.”