Bowery Farming, the largest vertical farming company in the U.S., has acquired Traptic, a company utilizing computer vision, robotic arms and artificial intelligence (AI), to harvest fruiting, vine and other delicate crops, including strawberries, tomatoes and more. It will supplement the farming company’s robotics technology already deployed in its network and will be the first indoor farming company to use this technology.
Traptic combines 3D cameras and AI with robotic arms equipped with a unique gripper to harvest fragile fruit and vine crops. The vision system utilizes 3D cameras and neural networks to distinguish ripe from unripe produce, and determines their position with millimeter-precision. Then the AI figures out how the robotic arms should move to pick the ripe crops from their plants. Traptic’s technology is designed to work 24 hours per day, reduce food waste up to 20% and increase yields of high-quality, blemish-free produce.
“Traptic is the perfect complement to Bowery’s industry-leading technological advances,” says Injong Rhee, CTO of Bowery Farming. “The dexterity and precision of Traptic’s robotic arm movement engineered by 3D localization and pathing is very exciting. By joining forces with Traptic, Bowery’s network of smart indoor farms will achieve another level of technological sophistication and maturity.”
The acquisition coincides with the first phase of the farm’s commercial launch of strawberries this spring. Technology developed by Traptic will play a significant role in scaling Bowery's strawberries, other fruiting and vine crops across communities in the U.S. and eventually the globe. Additional applications for the technology include assisting with pollination, pruning and thinning, along with harvesting other crops like tomatoes and basil.
As part of the acquisition, Traptic’s team of experts in robotics, computer vision and engineering will join Bowery to accelerate the use of sophisticated 3D vision and robotics across its network. Lewis Anderson, CEO of Traptic, will lead Bowery’s Robotic Solutions team and report into Justin Frankert, vice president of robotics and automation.