Artificial Intelligence: Israeli Startup Arugga Is Looking To Disrupt Bumblebees

October 10, 2022 | Artificial Intelligence, News
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Arugga has developed Polly, an AI robot that is claimed to be the world’s first commercial alternative to bee pollination.

Arugga, an Israel-based startup, has begun commercial marketing of Polly, an AI robot that can mimic the buzzing of a bumblebee. The vibrations from the robot shake the pollen from the flowers of a plant, for example tomato, and fertilize them so they can produce fruit. According to the company, Polly can replace the pollinating function of bumblebees that is so vital for crops such as tomatoes, blueberries, potatoes and others. These are typically crops which contain both male and female parts. (No Camels)

How Polly works

Polly, an autonomous ground robot, moves down the aisles between rows of tomato plants and captures images of every flower using computer vision. The AI is able to identify those flowers that are ready to be pollinated.

Polly then targets those flowers with an air pulse that is similar to buzz pollination, a process in which bees rapidly contract their indirect flight muscles, producing strong vibrations that forcibly expel pollen out from inside the flower’s anthers that goes on to fertilize the plant’s flower.

Greenhouses across North America, Australia and Finland have already operationalized Polly. They typically lease the robot on a monthly fee per hectare.

A waiting list already for the Polly pollinating robot!

This is likely worth it, because tests in commercial greenhouses in Israel, Australia and the United States, show tomatoes pollinated by Polly had yields up to 5% higher than those conventionally pollinated by bumblebees, and up to 20% higher than manual pollination.

“We will slowly deploy robots over all of these growers’ hectares, and we already have 100 hectares booked that are waiting for our robots,” Iddo Geltner, CEO and Co-founder of Arugga, said to NoCamels.

Arugga plans to add more functionality to Polly, including plant lowering, non-contact pruning, and pest and disease detection in the coming years.

Related Story: Blue River’s Massive Robots For Precision Spraying Weeds

Images credit (Arugga): Founders, Pollinating Robot

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