There was a great turn out at Fira-USA, held at Salinas Sports Complex (home of the California Rodeo) over Sept 19-21, with approx 2000 in attendance. The attendees included technology scouts, farmers, investors, educators and policymakers, media and of course, robotics companies and startups.
Twelve startups were selected to pitch at FIRA with some traveling from as far afield as New Zealand, India, UK and Europe to attend. All the startup presentations were good but I was particularly taken by TRIC Robotics, SeedSpider, L5 Automation, GRoboMac, Grain Weevil and Muddy Machines. Who am I kidding! You should check them all out, particularly if you’re interested in investing in agriculture. The Startup Pitch Session was supported by Yamaha Ventures.
- Orbiba Robotics
- SeedSpider Inc
- Grain Weevil Corporation
- Sami Agtech Inc.
- Exobotic Technologies
- AVL Motion
- L5 Automation Inc
- Muddy Machines Ltd
- Nature Robots
- Green Robot Machinery (GRoboMac)
- TRIC Robotics
Here’s a video of Grain Weevil in action – on a mission to prevent ‘boots on the grain’. There are approx 25 deaths each year in grain bins in the USA alone, and one in five of these deaths is a teenager. Not only does Grain Weevil have an impressive financial savings argument in support of the system, but it’s on the way to becoming mandatory safety equipment!
The overarching message from FIRA was that the robots ARE ready, and that farmers are keen. We’re seeing more electric agrobots, also some multipurpose agrobots. Farmers in California are also upset that current CA regulations require a safety driver to accompany every autonomous robot in the field, which is not the requirement in some neighboring states – so we have some policy work and education to be done in California.
IEEE Ag Data Interoperability Standards Working Group
IEEE has also announced a new standards work group on Enabling a Smart and Equitable Agriculture Ecosystem.
The goals of this group are to understand the current state of ag data interoperability (e.g., through workshops and conferences) and recommend best practices and guidelines for increasing collaboration around ag data collection, security, and management. Within these collaborations, we will propose standards and certificates for data providers and consumers to accelerate innovation.
To achieve these goals, we will start by gathering information from stakeholders to identify current pain points and opportunities as well as examining potential solutions. As we refine our understanding of the current landscape of problems and solutions, we will focus on platform-level interoperability to facilitate data compatibility and flow between key technologies across on-farm, supply chain, and end use.
Proposed deliverables and outcomes from this Industry Connections activity may include documents (e.g., white papers, reports), proposals for standards, conferences and workshops, etc. The deliverables of this activity will be:
- White paper (framing the problems, current architectures, )
- Standards and certifications gap analysis
- Recommendations for best practices and guidelines for on-farm, supply chain, and end-user collaboration
- Proposals for IEEE standards and/or certifications
To learn more about the activity and how to join, please express your interest by filling out the Enabling a Smart and Equitable Agriculture Ecosystem interest form.
The demos at FIRA kept everyone moving from the talks, through the expo to the various demo locations. There was a range of scenarios on show:
- Weeding on medium density vegetable crops
- Weeding on high density vegetable crops
- Multi-use robots for vegetables
- Robots for vineyards
- Robots in orchards
Orio is the brand-new straddle robot in the Naïo Technologies’ range. Designed for row crops and
The full FIRA-USA exhibitor and partner list is here.