agtech

Robots could soon take on the tasks of farmworkers harvesting the nation's food.

Santa Monica-based Future Acres, an agriculture tech startup, unveiled its first prototype on Tuesday — a robot named Carry that helps farmers transport crops.

Carry won't replace human employees that pick crops. Rather, the remote-operated machine will follow workers and take what they collect back to a sorting facility, speeding up operations in a labor-intensive industry. Since 2017, the team has been quietly busy testing the AI-powered machine that can transport up to 500 pounds of produce in virtually any weather condition.

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Sarah Hernandez is a full-time farmer, though she doesn't own a huge farm.

She grows microgreens, among other vegetables and herbs, in her yard in La Mirada. Microgreens, bite-sized version of larger veggies, don't require much space; Hernandez grows them vertically on 10x20 flats stacked on wooden shelves. She visits four farmers markets each week, then delivers microgreen boxes straight to customers who find her on CropSwap.

The app offers a farm-to-phone marketplace, connecting consumers directly to farmers. It's one of several services that have taken hold during the pandemic, allowing consumers who would otherwise go to farmers markets or grocery stores to get fresh produce or other goods delivered. CropSwap is also making it easier for some home-based growers to tap into the gig economy and sell within their communities.

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On this week's episode of LA Venture, hear from Gil Demeter, the vice president at Pontifax AgTech. We had a great discussion about next generation robotics and bioscience. Pontifax AgTech has over $465 million in assets under management, and is one of the largest food and agtech funds in the world.

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