Birds Eye Robotics, a Herman, Nebraska based company, has been selected as an awardee of the US Department of Agriculture Small Business Innovation Research grant from The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). 

NIFA supports initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture and applies an integrated approach to ensure that groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture-related sciences and technologies reach the people who can put them into practice. 

The $175,000 in funding will support the development of computer vision and grapple mechanism to improve poultry welfare across life cycle through autonomous robotic solutions. 

Computer vision is a field of artificial intelligence that enables computers and systems to derive meaningful information from digital images, videos and other visual inputs—and take actions or make recommendations based on that information. 

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In the 1970s, chicken accounted for less than 25% of the total U.S. meat consumption. Since 2014, however, chicken now accounts for more than 50%. To support this growing demand, integrators continue to build larger broiler barns in higher quantity. Today, the United States has the world’s largest broiler industry, with over 9 billion chickens produced each year. Quality labor continues to be a constraint for these operations. 

“We are fortunate to partner with the USDA on this opportunity and this shared vision to allow American producers to remain competitive in the global marketplace," said Birds Eye CEO Scott Niewohner. 

Since initial proof-of-concept development in 2019, the original version of the Bird’s Eye caretaker unit has operated in broiler barns for over 1000+ hours. Birds Eye Robotics has partnered with progressive producers and industry partners to support its early-stage testing. 

Other financial supporters of Birds Eye Robotics currently include Invest Nebraska, Innova Ag Innovation Fund, Iowa Ag Startup Engine, Burlington AG-VENTURE and several angel investors from the industry. Birds Eye Robotics is an alumnus The Combine, an agriculture technology startup incubator located on Nebraska Innovation Campus.