Weeds may be a fast-growing headache for farmers, but a startup building machinery powered by artificial intelligence to zap them is growing pretty quickly, too.
Seattle-based Carbon Robotics unveiled its latest piece of agtech equipment on Monday, the 2022 LaserWeeder, a robotic implement that can be pulled behind a tractor and uses computer vision and AI to quickly identify and target weeds in fields, and thermal energy to eliminate them.
“Carbon is the fastest growing company I’ve seen in 23 years of VC,” Erik Benson, managing director of Voyager Capital in Seattle, told GeekWire. “This is a future $50 billion company.”
Founded in 2018, Carbon is led by Isilon Systems co-founder Paul Mikesell, who sold Isilon for $2.25 billion in 2010 and spent time at Uber and Facebook before heading for the farm.
The company took in $27 million in a funding round last September, and has raised $36 million to date.
Voyager Capital, Anthos Capital, Ignition Capital and Fuse are among those who invested in the company.
The updated LaserWeeder uses 30 industrial CO2 lasers, more than three times the amount in the company’s previous self-driving Autonomous LaserWeeder, which was released in April 2021. The new machine can cover an average of two acres per hour.
“We’ve proven the effectiveness of our laserweeding technology and the immense benefits it offers farmers, including healthier crops and soil, decreased herbicide use, and reduced chemical and labor costs,” Mikesell said in a news release.
The new LaserWeeder is already sold out, thanks to orders from a number of farms, and Carbon is currently accepting pre-orders for 2023.