Chelan Burton-Brown, CFO of Robotics Plus (left) receiving the award from New Zealand Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment ( Robotics Plus )

Tauranga, N.Z.-based Robotics Plus has won an ANZLF Trans-Tasman Innovation and Growth Award. 

The award celebrates innovation, growth, and impact of emerging businesses in Australia and New Zealand, according to a news release, and was presented by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Auckland Sept. 12.

Robotics Plus was founded in 2013 by Steve Saunders and Alistair Scarfe, with a focus on improving the quality, productivity and sustainability of the horticultural and other industry supply chains, according to the release. The release said the company’s research and development efforts focus on automation, vision, robotics and artificial intelligence to help solve problems such as labor shortages, sustainability, pollination gaps, and yield security.

Robotics Plus CEO Matt Glenn said in the release that the company is experiencing “strong growth” on the back of increasing demand for its world-first platform technologies. “Over the last 18 months Robotics Plus has launched two commercial products, entered the U.S. and European markets, completed a US$10 million Series A investment with Yamaha Motor Company and grown from a team of 12 to over 50,” he said in the release. “We also have a number of new products in the pipeline and expect our growth to continue at the same rate for the foreseeable future.”

Robotics Plus launched its robotic Āporo apple packers commercially in 2018, according to the release. The system can pack up 120 apples per minute in display trays and is being marketed by Global Pac Technologies, a Jenkins Group (NZ/Australia) and Van Doren Sales (U.S.) joint venture. The release said Āporo apple packers are already operating in packhouses in New Zealand and the U.S, with a number of installations set for Europe.

Robotics Plus has a range of technologies under development, the release said, including an autonomous agricultural vehicle, robotic pollinator, robotic harvesters, crop estimator, and other projects that have not been disclosed.