IUNU uses robots to keep an eye on greenhouse crops

Startup and Technology News

Not going to lie, IUNU (pronounced “you knew”) is not the easiest name (further confusing matters is the presence of a robot called “LUNA”). But the agtech firm is involved in a solid business and just got a nice vote of confidence in the form of a Series B round. Today’s news finds the Seattle-based firm picking up $24 million in funding, led by Lewis & Clark Ventures, with S2G Ventures, Ceres Partners and Astanor Ventures returning for more.

Rather than operating in the field or vertical farming, the company’s targeting the world of greenhouses. Its LUNA robotic system moves along the top of a greenhouse roof, checking in on crops using computer vision. The system can detect problem areas and spots that are ready to harvest, so farmers don’t have to walk up and down crops — something that starts to become an issue as farms scale.

These are the kind of systems we’ve commonly seen rolled out for more traditional farms as part of a larger autonomous robot. Greenhouses certainly make sense for the tech, as they effectively allow it to move back and forth on a track.

IUNU says it’s currently working with a quarter of greenhouse leafy green growers in the U.S. The company currently employs 60, a 50% increase in headcount over the last six months. This round will go toward expanding its global footprint, as well as increasing R&D on new products.

“This round of investment reflects the confidence institutional investors have in us,” CEO Adam Greenberg says in a release. “The conversation around autonomous growing has accelerated in the past year, and we’re proud to be leading the way on this front.

As always, data’s the big play here, and iUNU claims it currently has the “largest production dataset in the industry,” based on existing deployment. A big cache like that is important for creating algorithms that can help identify potential problems before they become major issues for a given crop.

In September, the company acquired our 2015 Startup Battlefield winner Artemis (nee Agrilyst) to bolster its data-collecting capabilities.

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