Iron Ox’s autonomous robotic farms for food security

By William Smith
Startup Iron Ox is developing robotic greenhouses that favour energy efficiency and flexible production...

As climate change means ‘freak’ weather events are becoming decidedly unfreaky, many of the world’s breadbaskets are threatened. Look no further than California, which at this very moment is ablaze - with wildfires turning the sky an apocalyptic orange.

Food security is, therefore, becoming even more imperative. While farming technology has come on leaps and bounds, for instance leveraging drones and data analytics to predict crop yields, it is robotics and automation that promises entirely new ways of farming.

A number of agritech solutions have duly made it to the market, with applications ranging from harvesting to weed control and mowing proving popular among farmers.

Along these lines, startup Iron Ox (coincidentally based in San Carlos, California), is developing robotic greenhouses that favour energy efficiency and flexible production. The company’s ‘autonomous farms’ use sunlight and hydroponics to enable 30 times more crops in the same amount of space as traditional farming, while using 90% less water. Meanwhile, robots autonomously grow and pick plants.

The company yesterday announced a $20mn Series B round, following on from a $20.3mn Series A this time last year. The round was led by Pathbreaker Ventures and a collection of family offices, alongside Crosslink Capital, Amplify Partners, ENIAC Ventures, R7 Partners, Tuesday Ventures, At One Ventures and Y Combinator.

In a press release, Brandon Alexander, Iron Ox CEO and cofounder, said: “We have made it our mission to address food security by developing autonomous greenhouses that grow a variety of local and consistently delicious food for everyone. Today, we’re thrilled to announce the successful operation of our Gilroy farm as well as our consumer brand, and our plans to complete additional sunlight-enabled, out-of-state facilities in 2021. As our growing network expands, so too will our partnerships and distribution channels, which will enable us to delight even more customers.”

(Image: Iron Ox)

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