Meraque Group (Meraque), a Malaysian robotics solutions company has introduced the nation’s first Autonomous Ground Vehicle (AGV) designed for complex agricultural environments, named Robotic Agro in Complex Environment (RACE).
RACE was launched by the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, YB Datuk Seri Haji Mohamad bin Sabu during the Malaysia International Agriculture Technology Exhibition at the Setia Alam Convention Centre, marking a groundbreaking move towards revolutionising Malaysia’s agriculture sector.
The launch showcases a significantly enhanced and upgraded version of this pioneering agricultural innovation. As an autonomous AGV, RACE is designed to navigate the intricate and challenging terrain of agricultural environments. It boasts a suite of impressive features that promise to redefine precision and efficiency in the industry.
Its features include artificial intelligence (AI) powered mobility control, long-range (LoRa) real-time data transmission, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) navigation, an expansive 500-litre smart liquid tank, 12-metre maximum spray width and a robust 30° terrain-climbing capability. Meraque has secured patents for the incorporation of real-time kinematic (RTK) LoRA technology, swarm technology and smart spraying within the RACE system.
Meraque designed RACE to decrease dependence on foreign labour and enhance fertilizer spraying consistency in various crop and plantation fields, moving beyond just oil palm plantations. With a high-power computing module in the brain and AI, RACE is able to navigate its way autonomously between plants, and analyse surroundings for decision-making and routing, while setting boundaries using high-precision location points.
RACE also comes equipped with 360° vertical and horizontal directional spray functions, autonomous driving capabilities, a 700-kilogram maximum load capacity, advanced obstacle avoidance detection systems and an electronic parking system.
The official launch of RACE signifies Meraque’s evolution from a company primarily focused on drone technology to one that champions robotic automation, powered by AI, specifically tailored for the agriculture sector. This transformation underscores Meraque’s commitment to reshaping and modernising the industry through cutting-edge technology.
Meraque currently commands Malaysia’s largest market share for drone spraying services and harbours bold ambitions. By 2025, the company aspires to be among the top 10 largest agricultural technology (AgTech) robotic automation companies globally. Meraque envisions a transformative role for itself within the agriculture industry, driven by digitalisation and innovation. The launch of RACE represents a significant milestone in this journey.
With a dedicated commitment to meeting the burgeoning demands of the palm oil plantation sector and other extensive agricultural landscapes such as durian, rubber, coconut, paddy fields, and pineapple, Meraque has successfully trained and employed over 250 individuals.
Chief Executive Officer of Meraque, Md Razalee Ismail said that the company’s commitment to innovation and sustainability has driven them to develop RACE to not only transform the industry but also advance Malaysia’s agricultural prowess on the global stage.
“As we stand on the precipice of a new era in agriculture, the launch of RACE marks a pivotal moment in our journey at Meraque. With RACE, we have evolved from a drone company to a leader in robotic automation, and this is just the beginning. We want to play a significant role in realising Malaysia’s goal of becoming a prominent hub for robotics in services, agriculture and manufacturing, and achieving recognition as a high-tech nation by 2023.”
The technology has already undergone rigorous real-world testing in plantations, leaving clients highly satisfied with its capabilities. Following the launch, RACE will undergo commercialization. As Meraque continues to push the boundaries in agriculture through automation and cutting-edge technology, RACE serves as a testament to the company’s dedication to propelling the sector into a sustainable and technologically advanced future.
“We envision a future where technology empowers the agriculture industry and enhances food security. We are excited about the opportunities ahead and remain dedicated to making agriculture smarter, more efficient and more sustainable for everyone,” he added.
Malaysia emerged in the 14th spot on the Automation Readiness Index and Robot Density. As an integral component of the National Robotics Roadmap, Malaysia is setting its sights on becoming a prominent regional hub for robotics in sectors such as services, agriculture and manufacturing by the year 2030.
In line with this vision, the country has identified the Agriculture industry as one of its high-impact sectors. Notably, the Malaysian robotics market is poised for substantial growth, with a projected Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17.50% expected to drive it to USD 273.61 million by 2027.