Robotics Plus Limited, a Tauranga, New Zealand-based agricultural robotics and automation company, received a US$8M investment from Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd.
Yamaha Motor made its second investment into Robotics Plus, bringing its total investment to US$10M. This deal follows a partnership agreement and investment of US$2M announced in March 2018.
The company intends to use the funds to continue to grow operations and accelerate the development of their automation solutions, leveraging Yamaha Motor’s experience, knowledge and technologies in outdoor vehicles, factory automation, robotics, design for manufacturing and manufacturing.
Led by Steve Saunders, Co-Founder and Chairman, and Dr Matt Glenn, CEO, Robotics Plus has developed mechanization, automation, machine vision, robotic and sensor technologies to address global challenges in the primary industry such as labour shortages, sustainability for growers, pollination gaps and yield security.
The technology is now expanding into global markets and other sectors and the company is currently establishing a US subsidiary.
In May, Robotics Plus’ robotic Āporo apple packers were commercially launched. The apple packer, which identifies and places apples in display trays, can safely handle up to 120 fruit per minute. It is being marketed by Global Pac Technologies, a Jenkins Group (NZ/Australia) and Van Doren Sales (US) joint venture, and is already operating in packhouses in New Zealand and the USA.
Other technologies under development to address major issues in the horticulture industry caused by labour shortages and increasing consumer demand for fresh fruit, include: an autonomous agricultural vehicle, robotic kiwifruit harvester, robotic pollinator, crop estimator, and a number of confidential projects.