Agtonomy, a software and services company specializing in advanced autonomous and AI solutions for agriculture, announced today the 2024 expansion of their paid pilot program, putting growers in the driver's seat of next-generation, on-farm robotic automation.

"Agtech must have the farmer in the driver's seat of development from the beginning. Our on-farm pilots with growers help us refine innovation so it works in real environments for faster innovation and adoption," said Tim Bucher, Agtonomy CEO and co-founder. "Agtonomy's pilot program allows us to ensure our technology not only provides value, but works on their farm like we've promised."

Autonomy and robotics have been heralded as the solutions to agriculture's biggest challenges of labor, increasing costs and climate change impacts, but have yet to see wide-scale adoption at the field level due to poor technology performance, equipment cost or access. According to a 2022 McKinsey and Company, only 5% of farmers globally, across all agricultural sectors, have adopted autonomous solutions. 

Agtonomy has followed an aggressive on-farm testing program since the company's inception, developing the initial stages of the technology through trials on Bucher's California vineyard and olive orchard operation, Trattore Farms. 

For 2024, multiple wineries have signed on to participate, including E & J Gallo, the world's largest winery, and Treasury Wine Estates (TWE), one of the world's largest premium wine companies, as well as several award-winning wineries including Silver Oak Cellars and Caymus Vineyards. In addition, Agtonomy is working toward expanding the pilot program to West Coast fruit and nut tree growers.

"TWE has been trialing robotics across our global operations for a number of years now and we're excited about the potential for AI to continue to improve safety across our business through automation and progress our farming techniques and sustainability efforts. After experiencing Agtonomy's farmer-first approach and their ability to deliver in-field, autonomous solutions, we are thrilled to continue collaborating in the development of advanced tools to succeed in today's evolving farming environment," said Simon Graves, Director of Vineyard Operations at Treasury Americas, a division of Treasury Wine Estates. 

Growers enrolled in the pilot program are provided Agtonomy software enabled tractors using the second generation of Agtonomy's TeleFarmer™ software platform and tele-guidance service to remotely manage and optimize end-to-end farming tasks, including managing multi-fleet operations. This application of robotics, AI and advanced computing automates routine, daily farming tasks, like weeding, spraying and mowing, enabling more sustainable growing practices, including the more precise use of organic inputs, while performing tedious, labor-intensive field jobs.

In addition to their grower-partner strategy for product development, Agtonomy is working with equipment manufacturers to embed their software platform into brand-name tractors and implements. In January, Doosan Bobcat unveiled the AT450X, an Agtonomy enabled tractor, the industry's first autonomous, electrified articulating tractor. 

"Grower partnership allows us to tap into their knowledge of every tree, row or landscape to focus and strengthen autonomous design for real ROI for the end-user. OEM collaborations are vital to scaling adoption to the industry as a whole because they have the ability to produce not just a few hundred autonomous tractors a year, but tens of thousands, which provides the level of impact this industry desperately needs," Bucher said. 

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