Drones are everywhere. With a few exceptions, the majority of these flying, camera-wielding machines are in the hands of consumers, forever reproducing the same cliched videos.
But drones can do so much more than that. They are helping to provide security, examine oil pipelines, and measure mineral reserves.
And today, SeeTree — an AI-powered agriculture tech company — has announced $11.5 million in additional funding for its “intelligent network for trees,” which uses drones and artificial intelligence to measure the health and productivity of every tree for permanent crop growers.
The service provides growers with insights on individual trees and tree clusters, and it uses drones to gather high-resolution imaging and data. This information is combined with other sensors and resources, including ground sensors and rangers that acquire samples for further analysis.
“We believe that the right way to bring the highest value to farmers is by combining human intelligence with artificial intelligence,” cofounder and chairman at SeeTree, Barak Hachamov, told me. “SeeTree is an end-to-end service that consists of a series of multi-disciplined campaigns. Each of the resources that require a human touch is provided by SeeTree, and the rest is covered by AI.”
Those resources? In addition to human agronomic experience, SeeTree provides analyses of the responses of permanent crops to irrigation, climate, and soil, analyses of remote sensing results, drone operation, ground scouting, and face-to-face sessions with the growers.
While some of the insights SeeTree provides are driven by its AI-powered platform, some of the work is manual — this isn’t an automated solution that flies pre-determined drone patterns or removes the need for human interaction and intervention.
“The percentage of the SeeTree service that is human-powered varies depending on the needs and situations that may be faced by the growers themselves at any given time,” Hachamov said. “One must also take into account that the value of the human-powered aspect becomes far more significant as they conduct analyses and provide the growers with the actionable data needed to make important business decisions.”
So what is SeeTree analyzing, and how can it help those that need it?
“SeeTree highlights all the agronomic issues in farms, starting from allowing growers to know the condition of the health of their trees, tree production, and additional insights that address challenges such as pests, diseases, and irrigation problems,” Hachamov said. “Aerial imagery is complemented with other viewpoints and angles while being calibrated with validated data from the ground.”
Today’s funding announcement will help SeeTree to take its vision further. The Series A round of $11.5 million was led by Hanaco Ventures, with additional participation from Canaan Partners Israel and Uri Levine and his investor group, as well as iAngel and Mindset. Total funding now stands at $15 million.
“In addition to the data science and business intelligence aspects, the funds will be used towards further enhancing the capabilities and features that enable growers to increase the profitability of their farms significantly,” Hachamov said.
So what is next for SeeTree?
“We see ourselves eventually integrating our system to many other types of crops and farms worldwide, focusing on permanent crops,” Hachamov said. “By offering additional insights, as well as optimization models, all our customers will stand to benefit from the expanded feature-set. We hope to pave the way to the widespread increase of automation and connectivity in farms by being the provider and aggregator of the most relevant data for farmers, while still keeping the human touch.”