Robots have the potential to transform farming, and Chelmsford business Antobot is building ‘brains’ and digital infrastructure for the machines which will help growers out in the field
Antobot is an artificial intelligence (AI) company developing robot control units and digital infrastructure for the agricultural sector. It sells this 'robot' platform to businesses building autonomous machines, as well as using it to make its own robots.
Founded by Dr Howard Wu, the company’s CEO, and Dr Ke Lu, CTO, Antobot is based at the Chelmsford Arise Innovation Hub. Dr Wu previously worked on embedded system and autonomous solutions for one of the biggest names in the automotive industry, which led him to consider other applications of the technology.
“Around 2017 we started to see lots of headlines about labour shortages on farms, with fruit and vegetables being left to rot in the fields,” Dr Wu says. “The UK already imports more than 80% of its fruit, and that made me think about how AI and robotics could be used to help society, because producing food locally and increasing food security is pretty essential.”
Antobot’s core product is its embedded control unit and digital Infrastructure for agricultural robots. Using AI and machine learning optimised for the challenges of the horticultural sector, the robots can see the world around them and navigate fields autonomously.
Eventually this could be deployed in robots that carry out multiple tasks autonomously, but Dr Wu says the first use case is likely to be robots which gather data for yield prediction and transport fruit picked by humans during harvest; saving time and increasing crop yields.
Antobot has been based at the Chelmsford Arise Innovation Hub since 2020, and also has an office in Shanghai. “The facilities here are great, and the community events that are put on to help with things like business development, collaborative projects, and how to apply for grants and funding, have been very useful to us,” says Dr Wu. “It’s also been great from a recruitment perspective; we’ve taken on two interns from Anglia Ruskin University, one of whom has gone on to become a full-time member of the team.”
Find out more at antobot.ai.