The Philly Company That Makes Autonomous Farm Robots Just Raised $24M

Burro hopes to have 800 plant- and produce-hauling vehicles in operation by the end of the year.

Story by Technical.ly

Philly’s small-but-growing robotics presence is attracting national attention, as evidenced by a big cash infusion for a company named after a hard-working beast of burden.

Autonomous robotics company Burro, formerly known as Augean Robotics, announced it raised $24 million Series B. The round was led by Catalyst Investors and Translink Capital with previous investors S2G Ventures, Toyota Ventures, F-Prime Capital and Cibus Capital also contributing.

Burro robots work alongside humans at nurseries, vineyards and farms, helping to move produce and plants. The fresh funding will go toward scaling the business by selling its product through more dealers, launching new products, and hiring for Burro’s commercial, product and engineering teams, Burro CEO Charlie Andersen said. The funding round ran from August to December 2023 and follows an $11 million Series A raised in 2021.

“[The goal is] expanding our engineering and product team, expanding our sales and go-to-market team and then investing in efficiency,” Andersen told Technical.ly, “so that as we grow, we’re not growing with unbounded cost increases at the same time.”

The Callowhill-based, 44-person company is already pursuing these goals with the launch of its new product, Burro Grande, this week. This autonomous vehicle can carry and tow more weight than the original product, which Andersen calls a “pallet scale vehicle.”

The original Burro can carry 500 pounds and tow 2,000 pounds, while Burro Grande can carry 1,500 pounds and tow 5,000 pounds.

Though it’s growing in a city not widely known for its robotics expertise (beyond research at University of Pennsylvania), Burro has seen some exciting growth over the past few years. The company has hired execs from big-name companies, namely Gopuff and Toyota Research Institute, and joined John Deere’s agtech accelerator.

Andersen is excited to continue growing in this city.

“You’ve got this really, really like just a great group of people, a great talent pool that is local to the community that really wants to do robotics and is enthusiastic about it,” he said. “And my hope is that there is a crescendo of other companies like us.”

Along with the latest fundraising announcement, Burro announced Brian Rich, managing partner at Catalyst Investors, and Kaz Kikuchi, partner at Translink Capital, will join the company’s board.

“What sets Burro apart among the robotics sector is the team’s brilliant vision for augmenting — not replacing — labor with machines that work safely and reliably outdoors alongside humans, exponentially increasing efficiency and production,” Rich said in a written statement. “The Burro approach is already proven and its ROI demonstrated for farms and nurseries, perfectly positioning them to become the dominant outdoor robotics company for various industries and uses.”

Over the last five years, Burro’s technology has improved and the product is more commercially practical, resulting in increased demand, Andersen said. This year, he expects to see more sales through dealers and more sales in other parts of the world.

Burro currently has about 300 Burro robots operating. Andersen hopes there will be around 800 in operation by the end of the year.

“I think that we’re right on the precipice of, kind of, that big, big growth trajectory,” Andersen said, “and are trying to add the right people and talent to speed it up.”

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