Fieldwork Wins Government Grant and Appoints New CFO, Christopher Levine

Fieldwork Robotics Ltd. (“Fieldwork”), developers of selective, adaptive and modular harvesting robots, is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a £600 k government grant by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Innovate UK. The BerryAI Project will support the development of Fieldwork’s technology, bringing AI-powered vision and advanced decision-making technology to Fieldwork’s robots.

Christopher Levine. Image Credit: Fieldwork Robotics Ltd

The company also announces that Christopher Levine is joining the team as Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”). Christopher is a highly experienced financial officer who has previously worked as Finance Director at management consultancy Global Counsel, part of WPP Group. Christopher has worked with a number of private equity (PE) backed technology start-ups advising them on revenue generation and scale-up of operations. Christopher has most recently advised a smart tech startup on its global scale-up strategy and successful rollout of operations across Europe, the USA and Canada exiting when the business reached revenues of c.£10 m.

David Fulton, Fieldwork Chief Executive Office, said: “This is an exciting time for Fieldwork. I am delighted to welcome Christopher to the team, who brings exceptional knowledge and experience to support Fieldwork as we further scale our business.

Fieldwork is the only company in the world with the technology to autonomously harvest raspberries, and this funding round will allow us to build upon our first-mover advantage in the $2.2 bn fresh raspberry industry.

This is the second government grant that we have won in the last six months and is testament to the hard work of our team and the real-world impact of our technology. Fieldwork is a trusted partner, with growing name recognition and our dedication to continually improving our technology, while simultaneously evolving our team, will ensure that we are well positioned to continue innovating to service the fresh raspberry industry.”

Christopher Levine, Fieldwork Chief Financial Officer, commented, “I am pleased to have joined the Fieldwork team. The company is operating at the forefront of a rapidly growing sector, AgriTech robotics, and I’m excited to work with David and the team to further develop the company.”

AI-Powered Harvesting

The BerryAI Project will underpin the development of Fieldwork’s next autonomous model and has two aims: to enhance the AI-powered vision of the robot, and to improve its decision-making capabilities.

The updated robotic system will have enhanced artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, meaning that the model will have the capacity to work in a fleet with one operator running multiple robots across the field. This significantly reduces the labour intensity of the harvesting process and improves harvesting efficiency.

Super-Human Vision

Until now, the cameras on Fieldwork’s robots have mostly utilised the human visual spectrum, mimicking the ability of a human harvester. This project however will incorporate technology that utilises wavelengths invisible to the human eye, facilitated by our partner Fotenix, leading developers of crop analytic software. This development will improve the robot’s ability to detect crop and determine ripeness. Development of these two functions will make the robot more autonomous and more efficient as an alternative to human harvesting, a key step towards Fieldwork Robotics’ goals.

AI-Powered Decision Making

In addition to improving the super-human vision of the robot, the BerryAI Project is also targeting decision making within the robots in order to improve their autonomy. The expectation is that improved AI decision making will allow the robots to operate for long periods of time with minimal human oversight, making the robots increasingly cost-effective and efficient. It will be increasingly realistic to manage a large fleet of robots with a small workforce.

Martin Stoelen, Fieldwork Robotics Founder and Chief Science Officer commented: “Harnessing the robot’s capacity for autonomy is key to scaling up Fieldwork’s offering. The combination of these two key steps in software development – super-human vision and improved autonomous decision-making – will make Fieldwork’s technology an even more commercially viable option for growers internationally, securing them against the ongoing challenges of a diminishing and inconsistent seasonal workforce.

“We are currently on track to complete field trials within the next quarter and we are excited to see the real-world applications of our technology continue to develop.”

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