US – American AgTech Company AppHarvest, has acquired agricultural robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) company, Root AI, to boost its capacity to produce food sustainably and increase efficiency.

Founded in 2019, Root AI creates intelligent robots to help manage high-tech indoor farms. Its signature robot Virgo can be configured to identify and harvest multiple crops of varying sizes including tomatoes and peppers and more delicate fruits such as strawberries.

As part of the deal, AppHarvest will gain access to Virgo and is expected to take advantage of the data the robots can collect as they harvest to evaluate crop health, predict yield and optimise overall operations of the controlled environment agriculture facility.

“Enhanced data collection for each plant through the robot can lead to insights that teach us precisely how to design better, more resilient food systems that are reliable and that produce more food with fewer resources,” said Root AI co-founder and CEO, Josh Lessing

The Indoor farming company also hopes to use technologies from Root AI to improve on a number of sustainability efforts such as detecting and eliminating pests naturally and helping indoor farms successfully grow chemical pesticide-free fruits and vegetables.

This is particularly important to the company given its sustainability goal of using 90% less water than open-field agriculture and only recycled rainwater.

Following the acquisition, Lessing will join AppHarvest as chief technology officer. Meanwhile, co-founder Ryan Knopf will take on the role of VP of technology at AppHarvest.

‘Camello’ robot delivers groceries across Singapore

Meanwhile in Singapore, a home grown technology company known as  OTSAW Digital is bringing robots to the field of grocery delivery, deploying a pair of robots to bring residents their groceries in one part of the city state.

The robots, which are equipped with 3D sensors, a camera and two compartments each are able to carry up to 20 kg (44 lb) of food or parcels ordered online, make four or five deliveries per day on weekdays and are on call for half day on Saturday.

Named Camello”, the robots are reported to have successfully delivered groceries to 700 households in a one-year trial.

OTSAW Digital’s chief executive, Ling Ting Ming says that the robotics proved useful during the pandemic as they reduced human interactions during grocery delivery thus reducing chances of virus spread from one to another.

After each, Ling Ting Ming said that the robots used ultraviolet light to disinfect themselves making them safe for interaction with the next customer.

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