Agricultural startup deploys solar-powered AI robotics technology

Aigen robotics
Aigen cofounders Rich Wurden (left) and Kenny Lee. (Photo by Peter Bohler.)

A Seattle-based agricultural technology startup has unveiled a groundbreaking autonomous, scalable robotics platform, powered entirely by solar and wind energy.

With roots in farming, electric vehicles, robotics and impact investing, Rich Wurden and Kenny Lee founded Aigen in 2020 to connect farmers to breakthrough technologies, decarbonize agriculture and improve human and planetary health. The company is backed by New Enterprise AssociatesBessemer Venture PartnersCleveland AvenueReGen VCGlobal Founders CapitalIndustrious VenturesE2JDJ and AgFunder.

Leveraging proprietary, quantized AI, the Aigen Element service decreases fossil fuel use, while also providing farmers with invaluable real-time field insights, increased time savings and reduced costs. The solar-powered, AI-driven vehicles can autonomously navigate, weed and analyze row crops without any chemicals or diesel fuel. Offered as a service, the vehicles reduce farmers’ workload and their reliance on fossil fuels, while increasing their crop and soil health.

“Aigen was founded on the idea that there should be an alternative to the fossil fuels and pesticides used to produce our food. We have been working closely with farmers, like my family in Minnesota, to develop a solar-powered, on-edge AI platform that makes precision Ag scalable,” said Wurden, cofounder and CTO of Aigen. “We are excited to share those tools with the introduction of the Aigen Element.”

Earlier this year, 2024 and 2025 pre-orders for the Element Service sold out in one day, further demonstrating the excitement among U.S. commodity farmers for more effective approaches to weeding. In the U.S. alone, farmers use 900 million pounds of herbicide annually, and in the next few years, costs are expected to exceed $100 per acre.

“Farmers tell us again and again that weeds are the number one problem they face. So that’s where we’re starting, developing a solution for farmers to immediately reduce their costs and get rid of weeds, all while growing healthier crops,” said Lee, Aigen’s cofounder and CEO. “The benefits of our advanced, lightweight, super agile robots go far beyond weeding. We are excited to deliver field-level network connectivity and real-time data and insights that farmers can access from anywhere.”

Aigen’s unique robotic solution is possible thanks to the company’s proprietary quantized AI, which is so efficient it can run exclusively on renewable energy.

“The average cell phone needs 4 Watts of power. Our AI models need only 1.5W, and everything about our vehicle is just as efficient,” Wurden said. “Paired with a custom 205 W solar panel, our robots often generate a power surplus at the end of a full day of running.”

Aigen’s vehicles continuously transmit field and crop data to an in-house developed mobile app, offering farmers real-time insights.

“We’re bringing satellite technology down to earth, and deploying mesh network connectivity built on a robust, self-reliant hardware platform. This offers farmers higher resolution, real-time data and helps them get ahead of problems,” said Puneet Khattar, Aigen’s head of electrical engineering, who previously worked on Amazon’s satellite program and at SpaceX.

Every aspect of the Aigen Element robot is built for maximum efficiency on the farm. The lightweight frame and solar panel, paired with regenerative motors and rugged suspension, allow the robots to effectively navigate and weed row crops for up to 14 hours a day in nearly any weather condition.

The Aigen Element service will debut on more than 20,000 acres of U.S. farmland in 2024.

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