Tortuga AgTech is ramping up to build hundreds of automated harvest robots, and the company has producers pickin’ and investors grinnin’.
Refresher: In 2017, Tortuga secured $2.4 million in seed capital to begin designing robots that could harvest fresh, delicate fruits grown in controlled environments (AKA — greenhouses). They began designing the robots for strawberry harvest, and by 2019, they’d scraped together another $5 million to further refine the product.
And now, this: Venture capitalists, including big-wigs like eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and Tesla co-founder Marc Tarpenning, have climbed aboard the harvest train…in a big way. A newly announced Series A round will dump $20 million into Tortuga’s bank accounts.
The startup will use the cash to build hundreds of new robots that will pick berries in 2022. Using a grower-contracted model of traveling robots, the funds will also be used to pay employees operating robot fleets.
With a unique history of putting growers first during research and development, investors see big things on the horizon for Tortuga. Larry Page, managing director of Lewis & Clark AgriFood, put it this way: “We believe Tortuga can be the world leader in on-farm technology and automation.”
While we’re here: AppHarvest, the Nasdaq-listed high-tech greenhouse startup, is getting in on the robot action as well. The company purchased Root AI, a robotics-focused firm that claims that its Virgo robots are the world’s first “universal harvester.”
The price tag? A cool $60 million.