Jul 7, 2021
Abundant Robotics discontinues fruit harvesting business

Abundant Robotics, a Hayward, California-based agricultural robotics company founded in 2016, has shut down.

According to a memo about Abundant’s liquidation, the company “was unable to develop the market traction necessary to support its business during the pandemic.”

On June 29, 2021, Abundant put up for sale all of its intellectual property and assets. Abundant said it has a “host of IP, including a large body of vacuum manipulation patents (and patent applications), a patented sensory system to allow the vacuum to navigate obstruction, a patented world-class vision system for identifying fruits and their quality, and several software patents for the machine’s automated operations (including a solution to solve for “doubles” that enables the machine to pick multiple fruit at once.”

Abundant also failed to raise another round of funding. It raised a total of $12 million, according to Crunchbase, but its $10 million Series A closed back in May 2017. It raised a $2 million Seed Round from SRI Ventures in 2016.

Abundant developed a harvesting robot that initially targeted apples. The system combined computer vision and a vacuum end-effector to select and pick ripe fruit, transferring it into a bin. The company estimated its machine could reach between 50-90% of fruit on trees. The system is designed to augment human labor and could allegedly pick apples every two seconds. Abundant said it was targeting a pick rate of 1.5 seconds for the commercialized version of the robot. The company planned to broaden the type of fruit it picked in the future.

According to the memo, Abundant partnered with one of New Zealand’s largest apple growers, T&G Global, to test the apple harvesting robot in small-scale commercial trials. Abundant said it also conducted similar small-scale trials in the U.S with multiple customers. According to the memo, the market for orchard fruit production is about $200 billion, about $40-60 billion of which is specific to apple production.

Abundant said some of its competitors include FFRobotics (Israel), Ripe Robotics (Australia) and Tevel (Israel).

Curt Salisbury, co-founder and chief technology officer at Abundant Robotics Inc., issued the following statement on LinkedIn:

Abundant was planning to use a robotics as a service (RaaS) model. It would own, maintain, transport, and operate the robots in exchange for contract payments from farms, focusing on two 90-day harvest seasons: August-November in the Northern Hemisphere and February-May in the Southern Hemisphere. The company claimed to have developed a “strong, $100M+ business development pipeline through four years of co-development with industry leaders across the U.S., European and Oceania regions.” Abundant projected it would be cash flow positive “as early as Q2 2024, representing revenues at that time of less than 2% of the total available market.”

Abundant spun out of SRI International and was co-founded by Michael Eriksen, Curt Salisbury and Dan Steere.

Fruit Growers News has tracked Abundant Robotics’ progress – and that of a number of other transformational technologies impacting the fruit harvesting sector – for a number of years, including the following stories:

Abundant Robotics to automate orchard harvests

Abundant Robotics gets $10 million in funding for apple harvesting robot

Diving into the ‘first commercial robotic apple harvest’

T&G Global claims ‘world’s first commercial robotic apple harvest’

Apple harvests ripe for automated help

Orchard automation aids fruit growers

Canopy preparation helps robotic apple harvester

Gary Pullano, editor, Fruit Growers News

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