Frontier IP Group PLC (LON:FIPP) said its portfolio firm, Fieldwork Robotics has signed an agreement with German engineering group Bosch to accelerate the development of its robot technology to harvest soft fruit and vegetables.
The intellectual property investor said Bosch UK will collaborate with Fieldwork’s engineers to optimise its soft robotic arms and develop software to reduce the arms’ cost and increase their speed.
Fieldwork is currently focused on developing robots to harvest raspberries, which are more delicate and more easily damaged than other soft fruits and grow on bushes with complex foliage and berry distribution.
The company is also developing proof-of-concept robots for other crops following interest from leading multinational agribusinesses.
Frontier, which holds a 26.9% stake in Fieldwork, said the deal with Bosch was “a significant step forward” in commercialising the robotics group’s technology.
The deal also deepens Frontier’s own relationship with Bosch, with its other portfolio firm, Pulsiv Solar, currently working with the engineering group to optimise its solar micro-inverter.
"Industry engagement is a vital part of validating the commercial viability of new technology, so we are delighted to be extending our relationship with Bosch UK. They have provided invaluable support for our work with Pulsiv in optimising its solar microinverter for manufacturability”, Frontier IP chief executive Neil Crabb said in a statement.
"Agricultural automation is a long-term trend, but one which has been thrown into sharp relief recently from the impact on human labour of [coronavirus], demonstrating the potential value of Fieldwork's technology. We are very much looking forward to working with Bosch UK on this project", he added.
Frontier's shares rose 0.8% to 60p in late-morning trading on Monday.
--Adds share price--