‘Farmer’ robots to transform crop field tasks
The start-up FarmWise, founded by Sébastien Boyer, banishes the use of chemicals in crop fields and automates agricultural tasks using artificial intelligence to increase efficiency
In 19th century American literature, the famous story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, outlined some aspects of how things would look in the future. A scarecrow and a tin man walking together through immense cultivated fields. The most traditional symbol of agriculture alongside an automaton – a combination that comes close to current reality thanks to companies like FarmWise.
Founded in 2016, this French start-up markets autonomous robots that use artificial vision algorithms to navigate independently through crop fields and analyse the typology and the state of plants in real time. “These robots will not only automate agricultural tasks, but also drastically optimise crop-growing decisions because of having detailed plantation data”, states the company’s CEO, Sébastien Boyer.
By automating some processes, human workers can relegate these tasks and instead be dedicated to monitoring crop growth and the needs of the crops more accurately. In this way, FarmWise helps to “save costs and enhance human productivity in the plantations”, says Boyer.
In addition, the company provides a more sustainable alternative because it avoids the use of chemicals during agricultural processes: “Weeds are the main driver for the use of chemicals in plantations. We eliminate them before it is necessary to use herbicides”. This point is especially positive for Boyer as he explains that herbicides account for 75% of the chemicals used in the sector.
Thanks to this disruptive approach in the world of agriculture, Boyer became one of the winners of the Innovators Under 35 Europe 2018 awards from MIT Technology Review in Spanish. He has also been included in the Forbes’30 Under 30’ list, which recognizes the talents of young entrepreneurs. The company has already established several collaborations with some of the largest crop farms in the United States, and is implementing its technology so that autonomous agricultural robots begin to become a symbol of countryside routines.