Consistent food production and labor scarcity are two of the biggest challenges facing those in the ag industry, which is why Blue White Robotics set out to create a grower-focused autonomous solution for increased productivity and labor resilience.
Originating from Tel Aviv, Israel, the company has recently expanded its services in the United States, helping growers in California take advantage its much-needed solutions.
Ohad Boaz, General Manager, Blue White Robotics' US site
“From day one, the company was focused on everything related to autonomous solutions that could be applied immediately,” said Ohad Boaz, general manager of Blue White Robotics’ US site. “Starting out, the company was working in different industries, including agriculture, mobility, and security, but we quickly decided to focus exclusively on agriculture because we saw the huge benefits of applying the autonomous solutions to the industry.”
Part of the reason for that is the enormous demand for labor the industry is experiencing and will continue to face in the years ahead.
Originating from Tel Aviv, Israel, Blue White Robotics has recently expanded its services in the United States, helping growers in California take advantage of its much-needed solutions.
The company was founded in 2017 by Ben Alfi, Yair Shahar, and Aviram Shumeli, three ex-Israeli Air Force combat pilots and engineers, all of whom had a background in unmanned systems R&D programs for autonomous air and ground technologies.
Blue White Robotics founders Aviram Shmueli, Yair Shahar, and Ben Alfi
“They all had experience in these autonomous solutions, including how to implement them, how to test them, and how to apply them safely,” Boaz said. “[Blue White Robotics] was founded in light of some of the values we treasure the most—fellowship, innovation, and our love of the land.”
“Starting out, the company was working in different industries, including agriculture, mobility, and security, but we quickly decided to focus exclusively on agriculture because we saw the huge benefits of applying the autonomous solutions to the industry.” – Ohad Boaz
One of Blue White Robotics’ first innovations was a robot autonomous kit and software for tractors, which manages and optimizes both air and ground operations while collecting and distributing data to manage timing sprays and improve harvest decisions. Its AI systems rely on different sensors that enable tractors to drive autonomously and make decisions autonomously.
“We saw demand was huge; the labor shortage and the need for growers to step out of the vehicles with their chemicals—they needed better solutions,” Boaz said.
Blue White Robotics' autonomous kit and software for tractors
Growers working with almonds, pistachios, wine grapes, and more are taking advantage of Blue White Robotics' solutions.
Today, Blue White Robotics has approximately 140 employees overall, and the company has made significant progress over the last two years in building an R&D center in Israel.
“We’re gathering the best minds possible to create the technologies that we need,” Boaz said. “We’ve also moved to new offices to support the R&D center. More significant than that is the way we’ve grown in the US.”
“We’re gathering the best minds possible to create the technologies that we need.” – Ohad Boaz
Working mostly in California's Central Valley, Blue White Robotics has recently opened a new office in Fresno, and it’s seen its US employee count grow from 10 to 40 in 2022.
“We also have an assembly line where we assemble the kits and install them on the tractors, which helped us make a much more significant footprint here in Fresno,” Boaz said. “We also have an operation center close to Sacramento, and some of our managers are working there.”
One of the biggest challenges for Blue White Robotics is to build the US team further and find the right, talented people for the company.
“This is something pretty new, so we need to make sure we are bringing in people with the right mix of technology and agriculture know-how,” Boaz said. “In some respects, we need to invent the sector as in some cases it’s virtually nonexistent, and we need to build and teach from scratch. Therefore, we are putting a lot of effort into providing the knowledge and tools to those coming aboard.”
“We’re gathering the best minds possible to create the technologies that we need." - Ohad Boaz
There are some competitors out there, but Boaz sees that as a good thing.
“It only brings more attention to the sector and this sort of innovation in ag, and I think that’s great,” he said. “There’s so much to do in the world, and specifically in the Central Valley of California, so there’s room for everyone. The competition only helps develop the whole sector.”
Still, what Blue White Robotics is doing is unique, Boaz said, because its technology focuses on the tractor and allows it to be retrofitted quickly, and just about anything that needs to be done on the farm can be done autonomously.
“We bring very strong value to our customers,” he said. “We provide an end-to-end service; adaption is supported from the first day, which reduces any fear of technology a grower might have. We work with them until they are comfortable utilizing it.”