Purchased from the biotech startup Interstellar Lab on a $1 million 6-year lease, the futuristic pod is an adaptation of a system developed for NASA.
The self-regulating cocoon operates in a semi-closed circuit, optimising the water cycle, capturing ambient CO2 and natural sunlight, and reducing energy consumption.
Ultimately Interstellar claims the structure can reduce land and water needed to produce food on Earth by more than 99%.
The structure is installed without a foundation and at 11m long, 5m wide and 6m high, it offers up to 100m2 of controlled growing space.
Julien Maubert, Director of Raw Materials Division at Robertet, says: "We are delighted to be the first ones to officially acquire an Interstellar Lab Biopod because for us it truly represents a disruptive investment in the culture and research of aromatic plants."
“At this point, it is still too early to disclose the details about the plants we will be studying in the Biopod, although we already have some ideas. However, we can state that the Biopod will play a key role in accelerating our research on our plants, addressing various themes."
The investment is part of the company's wider decision to invest more in agronomic innovation to tackle the environmental, economic, and social challenges currently faced by its plant productions.
Maubert adds: "This initiative includes several aspects: Precision agriculture, plant material selection, improvement of cultivation and harvesting technique, increased yield and optimization of surfaces, and enhancements of their resistance to climate change."
Jérôme Bruhat, CEO of Robertet, says with this investment they are opening a "new chapter in agronomy".
He asserts: "The arrival of this BioPod in Grasse illustrates Robertet's innovation strategy - using cutting-edge technologies to offer our customers the best natural products for a more sustainable industry. We are doing this with a recognized pioneer in biofarming."
Maubert adds: ''We are looking forward to kick-off our collaboration with Interstellar Lab, an exceptional partner. We are already engaged in several research programs to prepare the future of aromatic plants agronomy, and we are excited to accelerate this research thanks to the remarkable performance of the BioPod. We are determined to continue transforming our industry."
Future of farming
With the newly created BioPods, Interstellar Lab initially aim to better life on Earth through durable farming and the preservation of biodiversity, but with the longer-term ambition to prepare humanity to settle on other planets.
The French-American startup has harnessed talents and expertise from NASA, Space X, Trimble, Airbus, and Dassault Systemes, including scientists, engineers, and architects.
The aim is to send these pods to other planets in few years, after a complete refit.
Barbara Belvisi, founder and CEO of Interstellar Lab, says: "We are delighted to be bringing BioPods to market with Robertet, as our first partner, a leading French, natural ingredients group with unrivalled experience and expertise in cultivating Earth natural resources. We share many common values, such as the preservation of biodiversity. With the BioPod, we are offering a solution to the industry's ecological transition. We harness technology to benefit the living."