Metals shop and auto mechanics in high school; B.A. in Biology, eventually leading to an interest in General Systems and computing; interest in robotics sparked by the realization that autonomous machines could enable a vast improvement in land management.
Crash Course is a video channel you can access through YouTube. Crash Course Computer Science is an ongoing playlist of fast-moving videos that begin with the most basic underpinnings of digital computing and progress from there.
Soil compression can be a serious problem, but it isn’t always, or in all ways, a bad thing. For example, impressions made by hoofed animals, so long as they only cover a minor fraction of the soil surface, create spaces in which water can accumulate and help it percolate into the soil more effectively, avoiding erosion runoff.
Let’s assume, for a moment, that the vision I’ve laid out in this blog is ridiculously successful, and, over the next few decades, robotic devices take over all aspects of tending land and crops and handling material inputs and produce, and do it using increasingly sustainable practices that begin the process of retaining and enhancing biological diversity and reviving overworked soils. What’s left for farmers to do? Will there even be a need for humans on farms?
I’ve come around to the view that the best and most inclusive term for high-concept farming which is both sustainably productive and ecologically responsible is Regenerative Agriculture. It implies all that is meant by permaculture, agroecology, carbon farming, and organic farming, but goes beyond these to focus on living matter in the soil, and in this is closely aligned with the term biodynamic. That said, I’m not prepared to argue the point; I only say this by way of explaining why I’ve chosen to use this term here.
I’ve long believed that Augmented Reality (AR) and robotics are closely related. Both model their environments to some degree. Robotics uses that model to guide the behavior of a machine, whereas AR uses it to provide an enhanced sensory experience to a human.
Groundwater levels in California’s Central Valley are down to historic lows and reservoirs have been depleted following four consecutive years of severe drought in the state. California is set to introduce water rationing in the coming weeks, and though the new rationing rules will focus on urban areas and not farms for the time being, they serve as a warning bell to farmers who will inevitably need to adapt to the effects of climate change on food production. Long term solutions are needed to help make agriculture drought resistant. How could robotics help?
On January 13 the EU announced its list of robotics projects funded under Horizon 2020, the EU funding program for research and innovation. Agriculture is one of four “priority domains” for robotics funding under H2020, and of these newly funded (or refunded) projects, two – Flourish and SWEEPER – are explicitly related to agriculture.
Materials used to produce International Robot Olympiad competition events.
The 2013 (15th annual) International Robot Olympiad competition has come to a close. Next year it will take place in Beijing, China, and is tentatively scheduled for October. Between 400 and 500 young people from 10 countries (including Canada and Mexico, as well as the U.S.) participated in this year’s event, and there would have been approximately 60 more had the bulk of the Indonesian team not been prevented from obtaining visas.
Let me admit up front that I’m not the best person to be covering a robotics competition. In fact this is only the second one I’ve attended; the first, Sparkfun’s AVC, is a tough act to follow and set my expectations pretty high. On the other hand, the theme of this year’s International Robot Olympiad is Robots in Agriculture, which is right in line with my own interests, so maybe it’s a wash in this instance.
No, this is not about shapeshifting robots, come to save or destroy Earth. It is about transforming the contexts within which robotic technologies are applied, and about practicing robotics with the intention of bringing about transformational results. In some cases this means finding better ways of accomplishing the same ends as before. In other cases it means pursuing ends that were previously unachievable. It hinges on the recognition that robotics is a revolutionary development, on the order of fire or writing, with the potential to transform everything it touches.
Today, Orbotix is introducing the Sphero 2.0, packed with new hardware that makes it faster, smarter, faster, brighter, and faster than ever. And did we mention it’s faster? Because it’s definitely faster.