Image Source: European Environmental Agency
FJDynamic, founded by DJI’s former chief scientist Wu Di, recently just closed a Series B round of $70 million as it enhances its goal to empower workers in the harvest environment with robotic technologies.
The technologies that WU worked on before FJDynamics were cutting edge in every sense. Wu, at DJI worked as chief scientist and supervise the drone giants acquisition of the 180-year-old Swedish format camera maker Victor Hasselblad AB in 2017. Before he came back to China, he spent a decade in Sweden, during which he earned his PhD in domain specific processor design. He also worked as a Vice Principal at fabless semiconductor company Coresonic AB and a director at the Swedish Luxury sport car maker Koenigsegg Ab.
In a recent interview Wu talked about his company farming robots, he said “I don’t think there is anything special about our technology”. The vision behind the startup, is to make useful and affordable robots for the most labor intensive industries.
In 2019, Wu left DJI to start his journey of FJDynamics. For Wu, what drove him away from a prestigious position at the world’s largest drone company was a sense of disconnection he felt making “luxury” hardware. The company set out with a focus on agriculture robots, building tools like unmanned lawnmowers. Orchard sprayers and feed pushing machines. The whole system heavily depends on manual work such as construction and manufacturing.
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As Beijing calls on a digital upgrade in the country’s traditional industries, Chinese companies like FJDynamics are the hottest demanded by investors. FJDynamics itself has attracted a rank of heavyweight financiers, including state-owned automaker Dongfeng Asset Management and Tencent. DJI has a stake in the company early on but has since sold off its shares.
It turns down to name its sole investor in its last Series B round and said it is a major firm internet in China. The funding, the company said will gradually grow its suite of robotics automation technology across agriculture, construction, gardening and facility management plus supporting the increasing demand of the company’s ESG product offering in over 60 countries.
One of the popular products of FJDynamic is the automated feed pusher. To produce high-quality milk, cows need to be fed about ten times throughout the day and this routine requires farms to have staffs on site 24 hours. That means if you have 500 cows then three grass feeders are required to take shifts. Unfortunately, in poor countries farms can’t afford to have as many workers and staff. At this point, FJDynamic shows its magic. Its vision guided feeder, which costs about 20,000 euros each can feed up to 500 cos a day. In 2019, it acquired the 110-year-old Swedish farming company Sveaverken, which has helped put the Chinese firm’s feed pushing robots to work.
Agriculture, construction, gardening, work conditions in these sectors are physically demanding and there are still a lot of us doing this kind of job. The question is how we use robotic technology to improve their work environment, and that doesn’t mean simply replacing them with robots.