Iron Ox’s autonomous robotic farms for food security
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 - 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 , 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 (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 plants.
The company a $20mn Series B round, following on from a $20.3mn 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 , 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)
Discord buys Sentropy to fight against hate and abuse online
Discord, a popular chat app, has acquired the software company Sentropy to bolster its efforts to combat online abuse and harassment. Sentropy, monitors online networks for abuse and harassment, then offers users a way to block problematic people and filter out messages they don’t want to see.
First launched in 2015 and currently boasting 150 million monthly active users, Discord plans to integrate Sentropy’s own products into its existing toolkit and the company will also bring the smaller company’s leadership group aboard. Discord currently uses a “multilevel” approach to moderation, and a Trust and Safety (T&S) team dedicated to protecting users and shaping content moderation policies comprised 15% of Discord’s workforce as of May 2020.
“T&S tech and processes should not be used as a competitive advantage,” Sentropy CEO John Redgrave said in a blog post on the announcement. “We all deserve digital and physical safety, and moderators deserve better tooling to help them do one of the hardest jobs online more effectively and with fewer harmful impacts.”
Cleanse platforms of online harassment and abuse
Redgrave elaborated on the company’s natural connection with Discord: “Discord represents the next generation of social companies — a generation where users are not the product to be sold, but the engine of connectivity, creativity, and growth. In this model, user privacy and user safety are essential product features, not an afterthought. The success of this model depends upon building next-generation Trust and Safety into every product. We don’t take this responsibility lightly and are humbled to work at the scale of Discord and with Discord’s resources to increase the depth of our impact.”
Sentropy launched out of stealth last summer with an AI system designed to detect, track and cleanse platforms of online harassment and abuse. The company emerged then with $13 million in funding from notable backers including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and his VC firm Initialized Capital, King River Capital, Horizons Ventures and Playground Global.
“We are excited to help Discord decide how we can most effectively share with the rest of the Internet the best practices, technology, and tools that we’ve developed to protect our own communities,” Redgrave said.