Interview with Yahoel Van Essen, Founder and CEO of Eleos Robotics

June 19, 2019

Technology, these days, is not only revamping urban life but also giving a whole new meaning to rural culture as well. Especially, Robotics and Autonomous System are heavily employed in agriculture to yield some great outcomes along with satisfying crops as well. From farming to retail the cutting-edge technologies are transforming entire picturesque.

For the agricultural evolution a lot of organisations are venturing into agri-tech and developing technologies and machineries that can support the activity to enhance productivity. Eleos Robotics is one such company which is proving itself quite pragmatic in innovating farming business.

In an exclusive interview with Analytics Insight, Eleos Robotics Founder and CEO Yahoel Van Essen outlines the ways in which his company is deploying robotics and AI to enhance efficiency and productivity along with innovation in agri-tech.


Kindly brief us about the company, its specialization and the services that your company offers.

Eleos Robotics invented the RoboWeeder an artificially intelligent weeding killing robot that uses patent-pending precision heating technology to control weeds organically and autonomously. We sell RoboWeeder fully maintained and monitored remotely to vineyards and berry farms.


Kindly brief us about your role at Eleos Robotics and your journey in this highly promising sector.

RoboWeeder’s visionary Yahoel Van Essen founded Eleos Robotics nearly three years ago to-date. Since then Eleos has always been highly ambitious. When Eleos started big firms were still playing it safe with convention-based, more narrow tech so as to “milk” their existing product lines. This is still the approach today to a large degree. Eleos decided to position themselves 5-10 years ahead of the pack by building on and incorporating emerging technologies into their robot, the RoboWeeder.

Agri-tech and agricultural robotics, in particular, is the Wild West. Startups are pioneering entirely new inventions. Eleos Robotics particularly discovered a new way to cultivate crops with directed energy, not to mention we have made it autonomous. Eleos’ robot, the RoboWeeder “binges” and “guzzles” data increasing its precision, intelligence and adaptability over time.


How is your company utilising advanced analytics and big data?

Eleos Robotics utilizes advanced analytics to accelerate its machine learning by bypassing the human element when it comes to categorizing our raw data. Eleos has the ability now to process huge quantities of data that previously required expensive hardware, software, and labor hours. While it obviously put to use in our computer vision algorithms, we also use the technology to improve growers’ awareness of crop health and foresight. Through data analysis, the grower can determine the optimal times to supplement with targeted pesticides, prepare for peak weed seasons, monitor invasive plants and much more. This reduces the impact upon the environment, improves crop health, saves time and reducing costs significantly.


Mention some of the awards, achievements, recognitions and clients’ feedback that you feel are notable and valuable for the company.

Eleos Robotics has raised over $175k through clean tech grants to build a proof-of-concept prototype(s) and do experimental work. Eleos has a 33-grower pre-sale waitlist and 15 letters of intent to purchase. Eleos has some large partnership opportunities pending. Eleos recently closed an RTO deal to go public on the CSE and already has over half their $1.5 million private placement subscribed. $1 million of these funds will be used to build their commercial prototype and to launch it in 2019.

Last year Eleos Robotics placed third in a global agri-tech challenge focused in France called Agri-N.E.S.T., and again this year they were a finalist in the Agro-Innovation Lab (BayWa/RWA Group) Robotics Challenge. Eleos is quickly becoming one of the top agricultural robotics startups globally.


What have been the most significant challenges that you have faced at the forefront of analytics?

Eleos Robotics plans to implement analytics into our product offering in the near future to provide even more marginal value to their customers. This is thanks to the rich and plentiful data our RoboWeeder collects in field from the best vantage point possible.

However, one of the biggest challenges facing precision agriculture and analytics, in general, is the sales cycle. It is generally hard to work a brand new solution into any business without education. Especially, a commodity business.


Kindly mention some of the major challenges the company has faced till now.

One of the biggest issues facing Eleos Robotics’ industry is regulation. Most developed nations have strict rules about autonomous vehicles. Secondly, Eleos’ RoboWeeder is a highly complex machine and is therefore full of specialized components. These are sometimes hard to procure at a reasonable cost. This is an issue for all robotic machinery in general. When the cost of production comes down significantly, robots are going to be pervasive in industry and ordinary life. Eleos is expecting to see these improvements realized in the next 3-5 years.


What is your biggest USP that differentiates the company from competitors?

Eleos’ RoboWeeder uses a worldwide patent-pending weeding technology. Eleos calls it precision microwave technology. It targets weeds and heats them dielectrically. That requires a lot of data to do precisely. Eleos’ application has the potential to be the world’s most disruptive weeding alternative to herbicides.


Where are We Going from Here?

Currently, the industry 4.0 is in its infancy of which Eleos Robotics is a pioneer. It is about to explode over the next 3-5 years. Numerous startups across all sectors are working on big AI innovations that are fed by massive amounts of data. Innovations through technologies that help to collect, facilitate, process, and store data will bolster a rapid proliferation of AI and big data technologies in the next 3-5 years.