Startup Raises $3.1 Million for No-Chemicals Approach to Cultivation

A Stanford University technology startup that uses robotics and other computer technologies to eradicate weeds has raised $3.1 million in venture capital.

Blue River Technology raised a Series funding round led by Khosla Ventures, and also included Steve Blank, Ulu Ventures, Stanford Angels and Entrepreneurs.

Founded in 2011 by two Stanford University alumni, Blue River uses robotics, computer imaging software, cameras and artificial intelligence to develop a no-chemicals approach to eliminating weeds.

The system could have applications for organic agriculture and may also be well-suited to farms that are struggling with chemical-resistant weeds.

"We intend to invest the proceeds of this round in growing our engineering team and accelerating our new product roadmap," says Jorge Heraud, co-founder and CEO of Blue River Technology. "Our culture fosters extreme innovation aimed at real-world problems. We are looking for passionate engineers to advance the boundaries of computer vision, machine learning and robotics and help us reinvent food production."

The company’s lead investor believes that Blue River Technology’s approach represents a more sustainable approach to expanding food production without increasing human exposure to harmful chemicals.

"Blue River Technology’s solution will not only be more cost effective than current solutions, but has the potential to reduce U.S. herbicide use by over 250 million pounds a year," says Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures.

Co-founder Heraud has a history of using technology for farming applications, having previously worked with Trimble Navigation’s agriculture group. His experience includes spray control products, agricultural displays and other systems.

The other co-founder, Lee Redden, has a background in robotics, computer vision and machine learning, and has been involved in research and development at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Stanford University, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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