Iron Ox today announced the launch of the crop-assisting mobile robot Grover. According to the Bay Area-based indoor farming firm, the mobile robot is capable of lifting and moving up to 1,000 pounds of payload.
The primary cargo is a 6x6-foot module that houses hydroponically fed produce. The modules are moved to a machine for scanning their progress and then transferred to another station for either additional care or harvesting. The system navigates a grow space courtesy of on-board lidar, as well as sets of forward and upward-facing cameras.
"We are applying technology to minimize the amount of land, water and energy needed to nourish a growing population," CEO Brandon Alexander said in a release. "Our short-term goal is to mitigate the impact of climate change on the agriculture system. And we won't stop until we achieve our long-term mission of making the produce sector carbon negative."
The technology arrives during a time of increased interest around indoor farming, as startups are looking for potentially more sustainable agricultural efforts to feed booming population growth. Vertical farming is perhaps the buzziest form in the category, but Iron Ox’s solution takes the form of a more traditional greenhouse -- albeit one that is fully automated from the ground up.
The California-based company recently broke ground on a 535,000-square-foot indoor farm in Texas. In September the company raised a $53 million Series C, bringing its total funding to $98 million.