The idea for Boson Motors started in 2017 when the co-founders Arun Seelam and Suri Bhupatiraju were working at Google as software engineers. Seeing the potential for powerful software to make a positive impact, the friends had an idea to create a simple and affordable autonomous electric vehicle that could easily be programmed and used by anyone.
The first opportunity to create the vehicle they had been imagining came in 2018 from a local organic grocery store that wanted to have a more sustainable impact. The store asked them to develop a small electric vehicle for their use and the co-founders developed a prototype which has now matured into their main truck product. It is operated through a simple Android interface and can integrate with additional software.
In 2020, Boson Motors joined the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator, a startup accelerator program in Minneapolis, MN that partners with Cargill and Ecolab to focus on the future of food and agriculture. While in the program, Arun interacted with Brian Carroll, Director of Grand Farm, and was sent Grand Farm’s Solving Growers’ Pain Points Through Technology report. Grand Farm created the report to highlight the pain points growers are facing in hopes that the industry will work together to solve those problems. At first Boson Motors didn’t do much with the report. But as they delved into the document, it gave the team direction on the current and future needs of growers and they used it to design the functionality of the vehicle.
Two of the main pain points they focused on were workforce shortage and reliability in the agriculture industry. With this in mind, they designed two main features. The first is a Follow Me or shadowing function. In this mode, the truck will slowly follow someone around a field or worksite as they go and accept commands from the operator. The second is a Path feature where the truck will follow a designed path that has been programmed into it. An example of this is a designed path for spraying. The truck also has a dump function for the bed so it can drop off items along the path that is chosen. The vehicle collects data as it moves and relays it in real time. This data includes such things as pest damage, irrigation leaks, debris, or broken branches. And while the truck can operate autonomously as programmed, it is a fully functioning and drivable vehicle. Along with the electric truck, Boson Motors also offers a solar panel charging system and electricity storage unit.
In April 2022, Arun traveled to Minneapolis for a Techstars alumni event. Since he was in the area, Arun got in touch with Brian Carroll to thank him for the Grower Pain Point report that was so helpful in designing the truck, and was invited to visit Grand Farm’s offices at the Prairie Den in Fargo, ND.
Arun also wanted to visit Fargo to scout it as a possible location for Boson Motors’ operations. Currently, the company is headquartered in California and manufactures its vehicles in India. The co-founders want to bring their manufacturing to the United States and have been searching for the right community to call home.
During Arun’s visit, Grand Farm connected him to the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation which began connecting him to community partners and programs. It soon became clear that Fargo has a lot to offer including access to growers and early adopters of technology innovations, pieces that are critical to the continual development of their products. Boson Motors is still evaluating communities but has narrowed it down to Fargo and one other location.
Arun and the Boson Motors team are pushed by their mission to help farmers obtain tools of the future without breaking the bank and to save them time so they can spend more of it with their families. With their open platform and practical utility, don’t be surprised if you start seeing their trucks in your area. And keep an eye out this summer as they release their newest truck, the Zekrom!