The market for agricultural robots has the opportunity for significant expansion: the farming world needs to increase global production whilst it also faces challenges such as reduced availability and the rising costs of farm labour.
Why are so many farm equipment manufacturers so heavily involved in the ag industry yet things are going so slowly in relation to robotics? Perhaps farmers need to first incorporate the digital era — and the concepts and practices of precision agriculture — before taking the next step toward the use of robots.
CBS News profiled a New Jersey vertical farm providing baby kale, arugula, spinach and romaine to nearby Newark and NYC groceries. They boast 130 times more productivity, 95% less water and no pesticides versus field farms. And they harvest 24 times a year, rain, snow or shine.
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.
There’s a great deal of concern over artificial intelligence; what it means for our jobs, whether robots will one day replace us in the workplace, whether it will one day lead to robot wars. But current research projects show that artificial intelligence (AI) can also be used for the greater good. Here are five global problems that machine learning could help us solve.
In this episode, Abate De Mey interviews two speakers from the Agricultural track of the RoboUniverse 2016 conference in San Diego: Dan Harburg of Soft Robotics Inc. and Matthew Borzage of BioTac. Borzage and Harburg discuss their distinct approaches to advancing gripping technology in Agriculture. Borzage stresses the importance of tactile sensing while Harburg pushes for low cost, soft grippers with no on-board sensors.
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?
At RoboUniverse in San Diego, agricultural robots and the labor shortage were quickly identified as the biggest issues facing the industry today. Water scarcity and field health were other key issues mentioned, but it’s labor that keeps farmers up at night and robotics that could come to their rescue.
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.
In this roundtable edition, we watched the Black Mirror episode “Hated in the Nation” and asked our Robohub team members: with many institutions focused on developing aerial drone technology, and in light of the pressing reality of climate change and bee colony collapse, do we see robotic bees in our future? Would swarms of artificial insects even be desirable?
To meet rising food demands from a growing global population, over 250 million acres of arable land will be needed – about 20% more land than all of Brazil. Alternatively, agricultural production will need to be more productive and more sustainable using our present acreage. Meeting future needs requires investment in alternative practices such as urban and vertical farming as well as existing indoor and covered methods.
Field robots and plane-based remote sensors can patrol the earth and the sky to monitor the gases that cause climate change. Standing on three large wheels that help it avoid getting stuck in the soil, the Field Flux robot is able to lower two sampling chambers held on large arms to test soils for tiny amounts of nitrous oxide (N2O).