Robots helping farmers pick and pack fruit and veg

LYRO Robotics is the brainchild of co-founders Juxi Leitner and Nicole Robinson. They’re a Brisbane-based, deep-tech start-up building intelligent robots, which help farmers across regional Queensland to identify, sort and package fruit and vegetables. 

These intelligent robots address a significant gap in the market and provide a solution to many farmers’ problems. It empowers farmers to integrate technology into their operations, optimises operating margins, reduces food wastage, increases efficiency and mitigates the impacts of labour shortages. And best of all, the robots can be fitted to farmers’ existing operations and installed in less than one hour!

With $100,000 in Advance Queensland Ignite Ideas funding, LYRO Robotics is planning to manufacture hundreds of robots helping dozens of farmers to pick and pack fruit and veg. This business growth also means expanding their local team to keep up with demand.

We caught up with LYRO Robotics co-founders Juxi and Nicole to learn more about their product and how the Ignite Ideas Fund will help their business grow.  

What inspired you to start your business?

It was our successful entry into the Amazon Robotics Challenge. We won first place with the robot we built at the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision, beating 15 other teams from leading institutes, like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Princeton University, Mitsubishi and Panasonic. This win showed us that the fundamental technology developed at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and other universities could be transferred into a company and a product. 

What milestones have you reached?

We have developed the world’s first pattern-packing robot for produce that can pack any fruit and vegetable and can be installed on existing packing lines in less than one hour. 

What achievements are you most proud of to date?

It’s whenever we arrive on a packing operator’s site with our first robot. We can show them that our robots can help them now, not it a few years’ time. The excitement on the farmers’ faces when they see the robot in action and how it can improve their operations is priceless!

What are your business goals over the next 12-24 months?

We are just at the beginning for LYRO Robotics. Over the next two years we plan to help dozens of farmers and have hundreds of robots sorting and packing fresh produce across Australia. We are also in discussions with international venture capital companies to start deploying our robots in international markets. 

How will you use your Ignite Ideas funding?

We will use our funding to grow our local team, as well as getting more robots into the hands of more packing operators. This means going out on three regional sales showcases and five demonstrations on farms. 

Why would you recommend others apply for Advance Queensland programs, such as Ignite Ideas Fund?

Because it’s really good to engage with your stakeholders and can help you strategise and plan for the future of your business. 

Why is it important to support Queensland businesses, innovators and entrepreneurs?

Queensland has a lot of fundamental research institutes that are world leading and there are many opportunities if you are willing to talk to companies. If you listen with an open mind there are a lot of pain points that companies face that novel technological approaches can solve. 

What’s your advice for other entrepreneurs and businesses starting out on their innovation journey?

It can be a very slow and painful road, but it will be extremely rewarding! Make sure to keep an open mind, listen and ask lots of questions. Also, don’t think technology is the solution; technology enables products, which in-turn will solve the problem. 

Last updated 04 Apr, 2022
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