Orchard Robotics Raises $3.8M led by General Catalyst to Build Robots & AI that Power Precision Crop Management

The latest seed funding propels the company towards a fruitful future, fueling rapid expansion of our state-of-the-art technology to serve larger acreage and diverse crops

SEATTLE, March 28, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Orchard Robotics, the company enabling precision crop management with robots and AI, announced today their $3.8M raise, across a seed round led by General Catalyst, and a pre-seed led by Contrary. In this oversubscribed round, they are joined by Humba Ventures, Soma Capital, Correlation Ventures, and VU Venture Partners, Ben Taft’s Genius Ventures, along with notable angel investors Howard Lerman, Joshua Browder, Rory and Kieran O’Reilly, and many others.

The company has engineered AI-driven camera systems designed to be affixed onto any farm vehicle, collecting precise data (including fruit count, size, color, growth rate, and more) pertaining to the fruit on each individual tree. Currently, the company’s technology is used by many of the largest fruit growers in the nation to maximize yield and quality in the field, and make strategic supply chain decisions post-harvest.

Orchards can have millions of trees, growing hundreds of millions of fruit, spanning thousands of acres. Yet historically, farmers have been forced to rely on small and imprecise sample sizes (for instance, counting fruit on just 10 of the 10,000 trees in a block) to make critical crop management decisions that affect the outcome of their whole farm.

And every tree is unique, needing specific inputs, treatments, and care all season long in order to produce the best fruit. Across millions of trees, the current practices of imprecise, homogenous treatments lead to inefficient resource usage, costly labor, and a large loss of potential crop value.

“Our mission at Orchard Robotics is to help farmers produce more food for the world, more profitability, efficiently, and sustainably. This starts with giving farmers the precision data they need to do what they do best. Growing better fruit begins with knowing what you’re growing. Nearly every decision on the farm, from pruning to spraying to thinning, is made in an effort to maximize fruit yield and quality”, said Wu. “Our cameras image trees from bud to bloom to harvest, and use advanced computer vision and machine learning models we’ve developed to collect precise data about hundreds of millions of fruit. This is a monumental step forward from traditional methods, which rely on manually-collected samples of maybe 100 fruits. By giving farmers total insight into what they’re growing, coupled with the ability to act on our real-time recommendations, we’re accelerating the adoption of precision crop management.”

Founded at Cornell University by Charles Wu, the company’s technology has been validated to consistently provide accurate counts when properly calibrated. Today, the company aids farmers in precision pruning, thinning, and spraying for targeted crop load management that reduces labor costs, while ensuring each tree gets what it needs to thrive.
And the impact of the company’s technology stretches far beyond the field, helping packhouses and marketers gain detailed insights into their supply chain through early-season yield estimates, well before the first fruit comes off the tree. “Beyond our advanced camera systems, our focus at Orchard Robotics also centers around our FruitScope OS. We recognize that data is only useful if our farmers can actually use it. Which is why, in collaboration with our growers, we’ve built FruitScope to be the industry-leading crop load management platform, where farmers can not only view all of their orchard data, but more importantly, put it into action on their farms.”

“Orchard Robotics has a bold vision to transform the future of farming and bring digitization and automation to farms,” said Niko Bonatsos, Managing Director, and Max Rimpel, partner, at General Catalyst. “The experience of the team, early success with large customers, partnership approach, and their data-first platform stood out to us, and we look forward to helping the company modernize a legacy industry for the fruit industry and beyond.”

Wu, who serves as CEO of the company, was also recently announced as a member of the newest class of Thiel Fellows. On his selection to the program, Alex Handy, Director of the Thiel Fellowship, said “By pushing crop yield beyond previously imagined limits, Charlie is paving the way for a future where farmers will be truly omniscient, understanding their yields at the cellular level. Orchard's transformative approach will render the Agricultural Revolution a mere prelude to a future that truly reflects the skills, talent, and passion of America's farmers.”

Following a successful 2023 growing season, this investment enables the company to scale their team and operations to better serve existing and future customers across larger acreages, while bringing precision crop management to all parts of the farm.

If you are a grower or packer interested in our technology, or just want to learn more about what we can do for your operation, sign up for a live demo today. For more information, visit orchard-robotics.com.

About Orchard Robotics:
​​​Founded in 2022, Orchard Robotics enables precision crop management for fruit farmers. They have engineered a vehicle-mounted, AI-powered camera system that gathers precision data about the fruit on every tree. Their industry-leading Orchard OS software platform lets farmers act on it by integrating with existing farm operations. The company’s technology is used by many of the largest fruit growers in the nation to maximize yield and quality in the field, while making strategic supply chain decisions post-harvest. For more information, visit orchard-robotics.com.

About General Catalyst:
General Catalyst is a venture capital firm that invests in powerful, positive change that endures — for our entrepreneurs, our investors, our people, and society. We support founders with a long-term view who challenge the status quo, partnering with them from seed to growth stage and beyond to build companies that withstand the test of time. With offices in San Francisco, Palo Alto, New York City, London, Berlin and Boston, the firm has helped support the growth of businesses such as: Airbnb, Deliveroo, Guild, Gusto, Hubspot, Illumio, Lemonade, Livongo, Oscar, Samsara, Snap, Stripe, and Warby Parker. For more: www.generalcatalyst.com.

Contact info: contact@orchard-robotics.com