MassVentures-backed Harvest Automation swoops down on agricultural market

Harvest Automation, a Billerica-based robotics company backed by MassVentures, is working on new robots that could wipe out an entire category of agricultural labor.

Harvest sells small, battery-powered robots that move potted trees and shrubs around in a plant nursery. The idea is to create enough space between each of the pots so that the plants have room to grow. “It gets pretty grueling” says inventor Joe Jones.

Jones, who helped invent iRobot’s Roomba, a robot vacuum cleaner, says they traveled the country talking to farmers and nursery owners before they decided what kind of agricultural robot to create.When they saw workers straining to move heavy pots around in a nursery in Sudbury, Mass., the light bulb went on. “We watched a bunch of people doing this job and we thought, if we can’t build a robot that does this, we’re in the wrong business,” Jones says.Read the full article here.