The agriculture industry has hit a turning point. Faced with a massive labor crunch and environmental instability, aggressive technology deployments are no longer an option for outliers in the sector, but a necessary and critical element in the success of the farm. Enabling the transformation are a host of new developers, but also legacy companies with deep roots in agriculture. Smart technology from companies like John Deere, for example, is helping farmers to produce more with less and create more successful crops, all while having a smaller impact on the land and environment. In contrast to prevailing wisdom that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, John Deere is employing AI and machine learning in its equipment to identify and enable needed actions at a scope and speed beyond human capacity, automating farming actions through smart robotics to enable consistent and precise actions at large scale, and providing precise, geospatial intelligence generated with machine technology and coupled with cloud-stored data to enable sustainable farming.
AMP Robotics, the recycling robotics technology developer backed by investors including Sequoia Capital and Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, is close to closing on as much as $70 million in new financing, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the company's plans. The new financing speaks to AMP Robotics' continued success in pilot projects and with new partnerships that are exponentially expanding the company's deployments. Earlier this month the company announced a new deal that represented its largest purchase order for its trash sorting and recycling robots. That order, for 24 machine learning-enabled robotic recycling systems with the waste handling company Waste Connections, was a showcase for the efficacy of the company's recycling technology. That comes on the back of a pilot program earlier in the year with one Toronto apartment complex, where the complex's tenants were able to opt into a program that would share recycling habits monitored by AMP Robotics with the building's renters in an effort to improve their recycling behavior.
Research is all about being the first, but commercialization is all about repeatability, not just many times but every single time. This was one of the key takeaways from the Transitioning Research From Academia to Industry panel during the National Robotics Initiative Foundational Research in Robotics PI Meeting on March 10 2021. I had the pleasure of moderating a discussion between Lael Odhner, Co-Founder of RightHand Robotics, Andrea Thomaz, Co-Founder/CEO of Diligent Robotics and Assoc Prof at UTexas Austin, and Kel Guerin, Co-Founder/CIO of READY Robotics. RightHand Robotics, Diligent Robotics and READY Robotics are young robotics startups that have all transitioned from the ICorps program and SBIR grant funding into becoming venture backed robotics startups. RightHand Robotics was founded in 2014 and is a Boston based company that specializes in robotics manipulation.
ICRA, the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, is an annual academic conference covering advances in robotics. It is one of the premier conferences in its field. This year, I was invited to attend to its 2017 edition in Singapore. With a superb organization and a beautiful location, the event included conferences of leading researchers and companies from all around the world, as well as workshops and an exhibitors area. This latter is where I spent most of my time, as I love direct interaction with the companies and research centres.