About Small Robot Company

Small Robot Company is an agri-tech startup which is focused on harnessing the power and precision of robots to improve the way that food is produced. We make farms more profitable, and increase yield and efficiency through using small robots instead of tractors. Our ‘precision farming’ technology is also much kinder to the soil, kinder to the environment, protects biodiversity and enables permaculture techniques at scale.

 

Our business is built on 15 years research by Professor Simon Blackmore at the National Centre for Precision Farming at Harper Adams University. The world’s leading expert on precision agriculture, his vision is that many of the jobs currently done by tractors in fields can be done at a lower cost, more accurately and with less waste by small robots. And it’s much, much kinder to the environment. What we have done is to take this technology, work with farmers to understand how it can answer their needs, and make this into reality.

 

We offer our robots through a Farming as a Service (FaaS) model, which is both a hardware and a software service for farmers. Farmers pay a per hectare subscription fee for a robotic hardware service which digitises the farm, and delivers crop care at per-plant precision. This also means they no longer have to worry about buying, storing or maintenance of most crop care machinery and equipment.

 

We are a farmer led, farmer focused business. We have designed our service offering following detailed face to face interviews with more than fifty farmers. We know how farms are operated, how farmers think, the levels of support that farm businesses need and the pricing levels that are realistic. Our seed funding has come from farmers, and when we are ready for our next fundraising round we intend to open it solely to farmer customers. This is to help ensure that we always remain focused on the individuals and the businesses who are using our services.

 

We have been developing our hardware, software and service offering throughout 2017. Our first prototype robot is now built and successfully working; field trials are currently in progress in farms in Shropshire; and we are currently building the world’s most detailed living data model for our AI software to exploit. We are formally launching the company in November 2017, with a view to starting commercial work in October 2018.

 

The first crop we are going to focus our service on is wheat. We have our first customers signed up to use our services from October 2018.

 

We are committed to helping solve the challenges that increased use of robotics brings to the rural economy, including changing the nature of jobs and the economy. We have therefore set up the Small Robot Foundation to help solve the challenges that increased use of robotics might bring to the rural economy. Our first initiative is an traineeship scheme starting in early 2018 with CEMAST. We are also committed to working to explore the longer term potential of precision farming to radically improve food production.

 

Feeding the world, three small robots at a time.

Our Team

Our team brings together pioneers and leaders in their fields of agriculture, engineering, machine learning and engineering. Gathering over 15 years of academic research in agri-robotics and 20 years of service design experience we will help farmers to continue to feed our population in a sustainable and smart way.

 

The two co-founders of the business, Ben Scott-Robinson and Sam Watson-Jones, were mutual admirers of Professor  Blackmore's vision and were introduced to each other by him.

 

Ben is an experienced entrepreneur with a background in technology and AI. Sam is a fourth generation farmer from North Shropshire with a desire to make farming better.

 

Professor Simon Blackmore is not directly involved in this business, but is regularly consulted by Small Robot Company for his expertise, research and advice. The world’s leading expert on precision farming, he has spent the last 15 years researching the use of robotics in agriculture at Harper Adams University, and more recently at the National Centre for Precision Farming. 


Read more on Ben and Sam’s vision for the company here.

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Ben

Experienced entrepreneur

Ex Creative Director

User experience expert

AI specialist

Fluffy fairy dust sprinkler

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Sam

Fourth generation farmer

Ex management consultant

Philanthropist

Technology specialist

Muddy booted labrador stroker

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Joe

Lead roboticist

Ex Head of OS Tech labs

Robotic control system expert

ROS and Python specialist

Head of Robot Awesomeness