South African startup Aerobotics raises $17M to scale its AI-for-agriculture platform | TechCrunch

Clémentine Lalande, Once CEO

South African startup Aerobotics raises $17M to scale its AI-for-agriculture platform

Tage Kene-Okafor@ulonnaya / 5:43 PM GMT+2•January 21, 2021


Image Credits: Aerobotics

As the global agricultural industry stretches to meet expected population growth and food demand, and food security becomes more of a pressing issue with global warming, a startup out of South Africa is using artificial intelligence to help farmers manage their farms, trees and fruits.

Aerobotics, a South African startup that provides intelligent tools to the world’s agriculture industry, has raised $17 million in an oversubscribed Series B round.

Founded in 2014 by James Paterson and Benji Meltzer, Aerobotics is currently focused on building tools for fruit and tree farmers. Using artificial intelligence, drones and other robotics, its technology helps track and assess the health of these crops, including identifying when trees are sick, tracking pests and diseases, and analytics for better yield management. 

The company has progressed its technology and provides to farmers independent and reliable yield estimations and harvest schedules by collecting and processing both tree and fruit imagery from citrus growers early in the season. In turn, farmers can prepare their stock, predict demand and ensure their customers have the best quality of produce.

Aerobotics has experienced record growth in the last few years. For one, it claims to have the largest proprietary data set of trees and citrus fruit in the world, having processed 81 million trees and more than a million citrus fruit.

The seven-year-old startup is based in Cape Town, South Africa. At a time when many of the startups out of the African continent have focused their attention primarily on identifying and fixing challenges at home, Aerobotics has found a lot of traction for its services abroad, too. It has offices in the U.S., Australia and Portugal — like Africa, home to other major, global agricultural economies — and operates in 18 countries across Africa, the Americas, Europe and Australia. 

Image Credits: Aerobotics

Within that, the U.S. is the company’s primary market, and Aerobotics says it has two provisional patents pending in the country, one for systems and methods for estimating tree age and another for systems and methods for predicting yield.  

The company said it plans to use this Series B investment to continue developing more technology and product delivery, both for the U.S. and other markets. 

“We’re committed to providing intelligent tools to optimize automation, minimize inputs and maximize production. We look forward to further co-developing our products with the agricultural industry leaders,” said Paterson, the CEO in a statement.

Once heralded as a frontier for technology centuries ago, the agriculture industry has stalled in that aspect for a long while. However, agritech companies like Aerobotics that support climate-smart agriculture and help farmers have sprung forth trying to take the industry back to its past glory. Investors have taken notice and over the past five years, investments have flowed with breathtaking pace. 

For Aerobotics, it raised $600,000 from 4Di Capital and Savannah Fund as part of its seed round in September 2017. The company then raised a further $4 million in Series A funding in February 2019, led by Nedbank Capital and Paper Plane Ventures.

Naspers Foundry, the lead investor in this Series B round, was launched by Naspers in 2019 as a 1.4 billion rand (~$100 million) fund for tech startups in South Africa. 

Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, CEO of Naspers South Africa, said of the investment, “Food security is of paramount importance in South Africa and the Aerobotics platform provides a positive contribution towards helping to sustain it. This type of tech innovation addresses societal challenges and is exactly the type of early-stage company that Naspers Foundry looks to back.”

Besides Aerobotics, Naspers Foundry has invested in online cleaning service SweepSouth, and food service platform Food Supply Network.

How To: Evaluate Technical Documentation Assets

When does management provide funding for documentation? Usually when it’s too late…

In today’s world, where converging intellect, knowledge and know-how let training and documentation coexist higher up in the Agile chain where largely big companies could only afford to before, the move to Static Generators from Dedicated tools is one factor, but the other factor which requires ongoing motivated tasking, is Financial.

Companies finally understand that their sales funnel will reach a rough end if they do not produce R&D documentation for the long-haul.

Historically, companies would ‘clean-up’ too late.

Failure to consider their entire Eco stem would let the product live for a short period before upgrading – whereas the customer would propose to have it available all the time – not a trifle when OEMs are concerned, for some.

The real challenge and impact of having useless documentation was providing a cover story for bad management choices.

Picking and choosing your battles is one way to evaluate what documents your company needs right now. But for a holistic view, the evaluation should be ongoing, comprehensive and deep.

See also: Technnical Writing Collateral Evaluations


Remote ID for Drones Final Rule Released – DRONELIFE

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TechCrunch: Salesforce buys Slack in a $27.7B megadeal.

Providing Non-Stop Service

24/7 Maintenance Agreement?

Does your Company provide services around the clock? Do you generate any number of document to support maintenance personnel?

Sometimes companies provide Installation manuals for large machines but leave the Maintenance to chance, because they bring the machine back to the factory for maintenance.

Don’t leave your maintenance to chance. The more authoritative the document, the more Information, Cautions, Warnings and Notes there are the more safety requirements you have, the more the regulatory department will be involved, the less overhead there will be in the long run.

Companies that provide semi-conductor, printing, 3D, and other at the macro level depend on Maintenance Warranties and Legal Print and the need to provide the documentation together with a Maintenance Manual.

Such are the workings of Railway, Aerospace and other large manufacturers in the various fields, including Automotive. When it comes to structuring, methodology, intermittent maintenance, change orders and frequent repairs stipulations for safety regulations, the documentation should be fault worthy.

No amount of work-arounds need to be applied. Although somewhat long-winded, the non-arbitrary nature of some of the warnings and preamble to the main data may actually save work; but most importantly can save lives – Especially, when alluding to working with laser and other beam type products that might also be military grade.

To stop speculation, the myriad explanations might be reused in various texts and this promotes knowledge for teams that work under pressure in a simple graphic and textual nature.

Whether piloting a light airplane or using a tool kit to troubleshoot on-the-go the Maintenance Structure of your document is essential. It should include:

  1. Warnings
  2. Pre-deployment
  3. Installation
  4. Deployment
  5. Maintenance
  6. Troubleshooting

To maintain a well formed maintenance document is much easier after doing it right the first time. A properly formulated document which could take a couple of months to write, is of far more value in the long-run especially where Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) Processes are in place. How the part was changed last time, might become critical when factory personnel are off duty, under lock-down or the maintenance procedure is required once every number of years (only), in which case the procedure may have been forgotten.

For more information, contact

Happy Rosh Hashana 2020 – Time to Squeeze the Honey

Happy New Year, Rosh Hashana 2020 is here.

Time to Squeeze the Honey 
Making things work as best as they can, providing answers and pushing forward; That is the name of the game this Rosh Hashana 2020. TechDocs would like to offer any assistance to fellow Humans, and Technical Writers as one. We are continuing to offer services to Startups in the Medical, UAV, FinTech, Cloud and Aerospace realms, as well as others.
Keeping in touch, helping others keep a chin up is the name of the game NOW.

We’re blazing the tail-end of Corona, hopefully this time!

LinkedIn sued after being caught reading users’ clipboards on iOS 14

LinkedIn was recently caught reading users’ clipboards on iPhone and iPad thanks to the new privacy features of iOS 14, as we reported last week. Even though the company claimed it was due a software bug, there’s now an iPhone user who’s suing LinkedIn for supposedly reading sensitive content from the clipboard without permission. more……

LinkedIn sued after being caught reading users’ clipboards on iOS 14

SwellPro releases new product for drone fishing

Drone fishing is becoming a real thing. And SwellPro has just released something that will allow SplashDrone owners to safely troll a baited line without fear of losing the drone with a snag or large catch. Fish fry, here we come! Drone fishing Yes, it seems there is a growing market for people who want to use their aerial drone as a fishing buddy. And we say “aerial” here because people have already been using underwater drones like the PowerRay Wizard for carrying a line or general underwater reconnaissance. If you haven’t seen what the PowerRay line can do, it’s worth checking out this video. It’s like having your own Remotely Operated Vehicle, because that’s exactly what it is. Who wouldn’t want a video feed that provides a view from your own tiny submarine? SwellPro knows that some of its users like to fish, and has already come up with three devices that allow the pilot to carry out a fishing line and drop it precisely where you want. The only limit is how much line you have on your fishing rod, though theoretically, at some great distance, weight will become an issue. The new widget is called Trollsafe (a name that sounds like an internet app for keeping trolls at bay). It’s an adjustable device that allows you to set the tension for holding your line while trolling. Think, for a second, what might happen if you were trolling and a fish struck the hook. If that fish was of any reasonable size and decided to dive or run, it might be taking your drone with it. And while the SwellPro line is designed to handle the water, who wants their drone dragged underwater? Not you. So the device has your line threaded between two ball bearings. You control the tension those bearings place on each other, allowing you to set for variable weights. Point is, when something hard pulls on your hook — whether it’s a fish or a snag — the line will release from the drone. That ball-bearing mechanism holds your line in place, but releases when necessary Drop that line Want a little tutorial on drone fishing with a SplashPro? Or course you do: Wait, there’s more It’s kind of addictive, this waterproof-drone fishing concept. Hmmm… that’s got me thinking: Reasonably priced Want one of those Trollsafe units? They’re actually very reasonably priced. You can pick them up for $29 directly from the SwellPro site. But remember, this is just an adjustable safety system to ensure the line will drop from your drone if the tension becomes too great. If you want to be precisely controlling when your line drops, you’ll still need a payload release system like the PL1, PL2 or PL3 fishing rigs. Would you try drone fishing? Would you prefer to be using an aerial drone like the SplashPro, or an underwater robot like the PowerRay? Let us know in the comments!

SwellPro releases new product for drone fishing

5 Pieces of Documentation Your Company Cannot Live Without

Like baking a cake there’s a recipe that companies need to follow to get the work done.

It’s way too often that a company who is heavily funded, does not have the basic paper-trail necessary, even when their original business-model stayed the same they may still not have a Company Profile. It is even more relevant to have ‘the basics’ when you’re pivoting, as this is the basis of getting serious work to happen.

If you are a frivolous Investor you should consider these documents the cornerstone of ‘Must Haves’ for the company you’re investing in.

Why is that so? Each document answers a question. A company that does not answer the 5 questions (how, what, when, why, where) is likely not to follow through on their promise – 


These are the documents and the answers your company should provide:


This is the ‘What’. It’s the most important part of the Content. If poorly written the readers will not ‘get it’ in the first line or two. It should give an orientation to the topic, purpose, situation, audience of the Product.


This is the ‘Where’. This is the main contents of the product and can include examples and illustrations to give context, in relation to factors About the Product. 

Company Profile

This is the ‘How’. This is the document in which the Company tells it’s investors how it plans to ‘keep it up’ and uphold the values and ethics of the Mission Statement. How does the Company ‘do its work in the world’.

Product Overview

This is the ‘Why’. The Product Overview is not really about doubling your conversion rate, it’s about giving a Technical Overview of your features & instead of a list, you get to write all the features in this ongoing document. It’s a very important document and possibly the most important one for both Marketing & Product departments. A must have.

Getting Started

This is the ‘When’. The Getting Started, is sometimes mistakenly called a ‘Quick Start’, but it isn’t. Those are two completely separate documents. The Getting Started is the document or part-of a manual that describes all the button options, drop-downs, radial buttons, filters and UI/UX standard usage of the Product

Tip: It is a full-length chapter that enables the User of the system to know in advance where to find things, while at the same time, it magically shortens the User Guide by 25% making it the single most important part of a User Manual.

What’s Trending in Technology NOW! By TechDocs (April 2020 Newsletter)

The Power of Drill-Down

This Newsletter is about drilling-down through layers of data put together by a myriad of technologies to help find solutions to defeat the COVID-19 virus and LET MY PEOPLE GO this PASSOVER 2020 ~


In Passover 2020, people have the technology at home and in the office, to Zoom each other. Someone may always be watching over you though, like big-brother, with the power to use all your ever logged social-media, texts and more, creating A Covid-19 Alert blanket for Government Agencies throughout the World.


The Technology around which NSO delivers its product package has been around for a number of years already. The Analysis of your data, be it Social Media, WhatsApp, and GPS location services and applications enables NSO and companies like it to Find – Drill-down – Map & Repeat to gain perspective of YOUR whereabouts and to lockdown the Covid-19 carriers in your communities.

Your cellular phone could be working to your detriment. Your cellular phone can triangulate your data via GPS, Bluetooth and Wifi, in any locale, and can identify your exact whereabouts, ie even on which floor you are, so that if you are in the same building as a Corona patient, but not on the same floor, you may not have to go into quarantine.

By drilling-down to your details, bank account, GPS and inventory lists, businesses or neighborhoods could be watched using analytics, and BI, to eventually formulate a mathematical blueprint which would impede your community’s movements: We’re no longer in the wild.


NSO has competitors in the Open Source technology world. On the 27 March, 2020, an article about How open source software is fighting COVID-19 was published in which thousands of open source repositories that mention datasets written in JavaScript and Python, while at the same time discussing several open hardware makers helping to stop the suffering caused by coronavirus, which is a totally different angle than the NSO Group offering.

Another mention goes to Intellexa, who provide Pandemic Solutions for law enforcement and intelligence agencies with a comprehensive portfolio of premium best of breed intelligence solutions.

Amidst the various technological proposals to fight Corona Virus for Government Agencies and Law Enforcement, is the good old classical Phone Monitoring technology solution. The Surveillance Industry Index toolkit provides thousands of company details – some Governmental, for Phone Monitoring solutions.

As early as 26 June, 2019, Fast Company wrote an article about the Dozens of spyware firms that offer a range of surveillance options, called: “Inside the shadowy world of spyware makers that target activists and dissidents”.

There is no way around it: ““Of course, your iPhone can be strong as you want security-wise, but if the mobile network leaks information, that’s outside the control of the phone and Apple. Companies like Circles are very actively promoting that they can track the location of a phone through SS7.”

This once ‘growing and controversial industry’, with the significant twist of COVID-19, has taken on an institutionalized flavor, the legality of which has not yet been fully explored.

CORONA TECHNOLOGY – Improving Business through Tech

Yesterday, 9 April, 2020, IsraelDefense published the release of the newly developed Wix site, CoronaTech Israel, which is destined to publish and connect Startups in the studies and findings of the COVID-19 virus, while acting as a one-stop-shop for all the Israeli and International knowledge in one place (hopefully).

Yours Always, The TechDocs Team

About the Author:

TechDocs: Technical, UX/UI & Product Marketing Documentation Services is the No. 1 Technical Writing brand in Israel. We are indispensable to our customers, writing User-manuals, API’s and other Customer Facing documentation all over the World today. Our mission is to be indispensable in the fields of UX Writing which is the trending field today.

Newsletter April 2020

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