Below is our recent interview with Florian Richter, CEO & Founder of Muddy Machines:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to your company?
A: At Muddy Machines, we are developing robots that can alleviate the massive labour shortage issue that growers of fruit and vegetables are faced with today.
We are building a modular robotics platform that can tackle all sorts of in-field tasks that are today done by hand, such as selective harvesting, precision weed control and yield forecasting. Our team is a mix of experienced robotics and mechanical engineers based in and around London.
The autonomous machine is the size of a small car and runs on batteries instead of farm diesel.
Q: Any highlights on your recent announcement?
A: We are very proud that we have won support not only from dedicated robotics investors like BritBots and Robotics Ventures, but also from highly innovative growers like Barfoots of Botley. These investors had faith in our team and development plan very early on, before we were even able to to put the first prototype into the field.
Q: Can you give us more insights into your offering?
A: We offer ‘harvest as a service’ where our team takes over a few hectares of farmland for the harvest season and gets paid based on the tonnes of produce we harvest – very similar to how seasonal workers get paid.
Additionally we offer a yield forecasting service that helps the grower predict how much produce can be expected in the upcoming days.
After a few years of operating like this, we will move to a ‘robotics as a service’ model where we provide machines, service and software, but the operation of the machines is done by the growers themselves.
Q: What can we expect from your company in next 6 months? What are your plans?
A: We are working on completing our field trials in collaboration with Cobrey Farms and showcase how much progress we have made on the commercial viability of our first prototype.
With these results we are planning to raise a seed round in September/October this year in order to ramp up our engineering efforts (hiring!) and go into the field again in 2022 with multiple robots.
Furthermore we are planning to explore additional labour intensive field crops that may lend themselves to robotic harvesting.
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Q: What is a great thing about your company that people might not know about?
A: Fixing labour shortages is hugely important for the survival of high value vegetable production in the UK. But the bigger picture here is that this will massively help reduce all of our carbon footprint as we do not have to consume large quantities of imported vegetables that come with a lot of carbon intensive ‘food miles’ attached.
Furthermore, our light weight machines make a significant contribution to soil health because they do not compress the ground nearly as much as conventional agricultural machines do.