Dogtooth Technologies is a Cambridge-based technology start-up that is building smart autonomous robots for harvesting soft fruits such as strawberries.
Having won an Innovate UK SMART Award in 2015, the business has developed a prototype strawberry picking robot that is currently being tested on customer farms, early stage trials have seen encouraging results in the ability to accurately locate and distinguish fruits that are ripe and ready for picking, and to pick them fast and thoroughly enough to provide a commercially viable and sustainable model for growers. Dogtooth continues to work closely with reference customers to refine the product over the next 18-24 months, as we optimise the machine efficiency and further extract value through data analytics and machine learning.
We are using 5-10 robots in early stage commercial trials in the 2017 growing season and building more once we have proven commercial efficacy. Dogtooth was founded by Dr Duncan Robertson, Ed Herbert and Mat Cook - see our Team page.
With a growing market for fresh berries, Dogtooth’s offering has interested innovative growers across the country. In addition to alleviating the growing problem and increasing challenge of recruiting enough sufficiently skilled picking labour for the British soft fruit industry, other benefits provided by robotic picking solutions are of even more interest to customers, for example:
• the ability to deliver consistent picking performance over the working day
• the ability to carry out grading and quality control in-situ without repeated handling of the fruit
• the ability to pick during the hours of darkness when temperatures are lower - maximising the shelf life of picked fruit; and
• the opportunity to gather data from each plant, enabling precision crop management to optimise yields, quality and marketing.
Dogtooth has been funded to date by Innovate UK and several Cambridge technology angel investors including Peter Cowley, who was named UK Business Angel of the Year for 2014/2015. The company, which has 6 employees (Ruan is subcontracted from Redimension), is currently raising a new funding round sufficient to complete commercial trials during the 2017 growing season.
Dogtooth expects to provide commercially effective picking capabilities to reference customers in 2018 and to achieve widespread adoption by 2020.