French agri-robotics start-up Naïo Technologies has raised €14m (£11.8m) in a Series A funding round.
The round was led by France’s national investment bank Bpifrance and included Pymwymic, a European community of impact investors, alongside Naio’s existing shareholders Demeter and Capagro.
It follows a seed round of €3m (£2.5m) in 2015.
Founded in 2011 by robotics engineers Aymeric Barthes and Gaëtan Séverac, Toulouse-based Naïo manufactures and markets agricultural solutions in collaboration with farmers.
Its three weeding robot models – Oz, Dino and Ted – have been designed to assist farmers in their daily work, reduce strenuous physical workload and limit the use of chemical weedkillers.
Specifically, Oz is used for weeding and hoeing chores, Ted for vineyards, and the autonomous and electric Dino for large-scale vegetable farms.
According to the company, this new investment round will enable it to reach the next level of technology maturity in order to prepare the robots for mass production.
Aymeric Barthès, CEO of Naïo Technologies, said: “During the past few years, we have made a lot of progress in navigation, user experience and security aspects.
“Our next step is to focus on further increasing the reliability of our robots as well as developing an efficient and large-scale deployment strategy.”
To date, nearly 150 Naïo robots have been deployed at farms and vineyards both in Europe and in the USA.
The company has developed a standard navigation system for agricultural robots, which can be implemented on any off-road robot, and thus enables its use with many crop types.
Séverac added: “In the next 10 years, there will be robots in every field in Europe and North America.
“We recognise that the challenge is very ambitious, but we are convinced that we can meet it alongside our partners and stakeholders.
“Our goal is to ensure the ecological and social transition to sustainable agriculture.”