Burro, formerly known as Augean Robotics, an autonomy company providing solutions for the agriculture industry, today announced it has raised a $10.9 million Series A. The round was led by S2G Ventures and Toyota Ventures, with F-Prime Capital and the Cibus Enterprise Fund joining, along with existing investors including Radicle Growth and ffVC.
Burro robots are the first step towards an autonomous future where robots do work outdoors that people no longer want to do. Burros enable growers to boost profitability and mitigate labor shortages today by working collaboratively to force multiply workers, while also laying the foundation for more comprehensive automation tomorrow.
Growers of labor-intensive specialty crops such as table grapes, berries, and nursery crops are largely un-mechanized and therefore out of necessity employ 88% of United States crop workers to do a diverse set of hard-to-mechanize tasks. This workforce has shrunk rapidly in recent years. In the face of this crisis, growers are searching for autonomous systems that can reduce their labor needs, but virtually nothing is available commercially today.
With its Series A funding, Burro plans to address this need by expanding to 500+ robots next year to meet demand from both existing and new customers. To drive this growth, the company is dramatically increasing the size of its team, while also expanding the capabilities of its product. Along with adding the dexterity needed to pick table grapes, Burro will also extend its mobility autonomy into nursery and berry markets.
Burro is the only plug-and-play autonomous people-scale robot available that increases productivity in conventional production environments. Burros feature a novel and patent-pending approach called Pop Up Autonomy, which means they work immediately out of the box by enabling everyone in a working environment to become an operator. They do not require a centralized control or installation of burdensome infrastructure. Instead, the robots use computer vision and AI to learn on the fly and to navigate autonomously from A to B while carrying various payloads.
Today Burro has 90 robots in table grape fields covering 100-300 miles a day autonomously, 6 days a week. Instead of each farmworker walking several miles a day with a 250 pound wheelbarrow full of grapes in the heat, farm workers can stand in the shade and pick/pack with a continuous flow of fruit out of the field. Burros are already transforming worker productivity with one Burro enabling six-plus people to harvest up to 48% more fruit per day for a less than two month ROI.
"Charlie and the Burro team have big plans to drive their product roadmap from a growing customer base, harden their technology through real-world use, and offer extended platform services that farmers need every day," said Jim Adler, Founding Managing Director at Toyota Ventures. "Burro is already gaining traction in the big, broken but increasingly accessible agricultural market."
Burro is already scaling in the $3 billion table grapes market and looking to expand into berries and nursery crops. It eventually aims to tackle the $1.2T in US outdoor labor where automation can address some of the industry's most pressing challenges. Burro's robots are modular and built to scale. Today's product is the first step in a fully autonomous farm stack: robots that can navigate anywhere, perceive everything, and use dexterity to do increasingly complex work outdoors.