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cultibotics


Contrasting two robotic developments

The first is an autonomous agricultural robot that you can actually buy, or will be able to soon. It runs on gas and will cost around $100,000 when it becomes available early next year. FHI claims t...
23 November 2009, by

Le Petit Prince takes attentiveness to an extreme

Are your plants suffering from lack of attention? Perhaps this little robot is what you need. Unfortunately, you'll need a few thousand of them if you plan to do any serious gardening.   Repo...
31 August 2009, by

Cultibotics as a quality of life issue

Your typical farm raises at most a few crops, frequently only one. Because it's what I know, and because it's in practically every processed food you can buy, let's take wheat as an example.   ...
26 July 2009, by

Of thresholds and the forces that drive change

"But why would you want to turn farming over to machines?"   Ahem! Farming has been conducted primarily by machines for going on a hundred years, at least in the United States. I want to subs...
29 June 2009, by

Convertible manipulator/sheer

A manipulator with four or six ‘fingers’ positioned symmetrically around a central axis might also serve as a sheer, able to snip along two or three planes. The cutting edges would be the edges o...
02 March 2009, by

Keeping dust off optics

Whether lenses for machine vision, or lenses and mirrors to direct laser light, the need to keep dust off their surfaces should be obvious.   One likely solution is to surround the lens with a ...
02 March 2009, by



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Valuing the work done

So long as the alternative to the use of robotics remains human labor, the value of the work a machine does can be measured in terms of what it would cost to pay people to do the same work, plus the g...
10 January 2009, by

Robots under glass: The threshold of minimal investment

For the time being, it probably doesn't make good economic sense to dedicate sophisticated machinery to managing a patch of ground that's unprotected from the elements, when it might just as well be w...
04 January 2009, by

No one’s going to take your tractor away

Even if, between now and January, Congress were to get religion with regard to the benefits to be gained from applying robotics to the transformation of agriculture, and had a full-speed-ahead bill re...
25 November 2008, by

The importance of interfaces

Take the USB port as an example. It's ubiquitous; practically everything either has one or plugs into one.   Similarly, if you want to build a multi-vendor market for almost anything, one of t...
24 November 2008, by

Finding a place for cultibotics in Obama’s rural agenda

It's not like there was any shortage of ideas for how to improve the stability of U.S. agriculture, the lot of farmers, and the economic vitality of rural America. Just have a look at President-Elect...
23 November 2008, by

More specifically, how would they work?

This a subject for research and development, of course, but it's my ‘job’ to make this vision as accessible as I can, to both anticipate what that R&D might produce and describe it in plain langua...
22 November 2008, by

Imagine a machine built for efficient gardening

What would it look like? How would it be powered, and how would it transmit power to the parts that need it? What actions would it be capable of performing?   There's no single, right answer ...
18 November 2008, by

Center-pivot tillage system

Thanks to Jan Slinsky for posting this YouTube link, to a video showing a center-pivot system used for tilling a small plot of land.   While requiring more energy than tillage-free management w...
27 October 2008, by

The origin of cultibotics in science fiction

To be quite truthful, the dream of having robots take over the task of managing productive land isn't really mine in the sense of having originated it. To be sure I've contributed some detail, but ot...
26 August 2008, by

An idea the time for which is growing closer

When I first started thinking about the use of sophisticated robotics on the front line of horticulture/agriculture, performing most or all field operations autonomously, in a detailed manner, I figur...
25 August 2008, by

WSIC: Knowing the right search term is golden

WSIC is an acronym with multiple interpretations, one of which is relevant here. For our purposes, it means "wide-span implement carrier" and refers to a category of machine wherein the components th...
22 March 2008, by

The long, slow tipping point, or boiling frogs

It's said that if you raise the temperature slowly enough you can boil a frog alive and it will never jump out of the pot. True or not, it illustrates the idea of changes that happen so gradually we ...
03 March 2008, by

Cultibotics and nutrition

A very long time ago, 1981 to be precise, I intended to pursue a masters degree in agronomy, with a focus on how well various agricultural systems supported balanced nutrition for those dependent upon...
13 January 2008, by

Why use robots, round 5

Figuratively speaking, a robot is a machine with a brain. They don't really have brains, of course; they have processors and programs, which would be depicted on some low-detail flowchart as lying be...
16 November 2007, by

Getting there from here, round 2

While it's inevitable that agriculture will eventually incorporate robotics to some degree, what form that takes is a wide open question, one that, left to itself, would eventually find an answer driv...
10 November 2007, by

Why use robots, round 4

Machines can work continuously, 24/7. Doing so would require power enough to last through the night and either artificial lighting or night vision, and some operations are probably best left for dayli...
17 September 2007, by

Size counts

Just as you don't really need a machine with six foot tall tires to prepare a seedbed, you don't necessarily need a machine suspended from a gantry or with legs long enough to lift it above corn tasse...
16 September 2007, by

Why use robots, round 3

Why use robots to do what people can do, when there are so many unemployed?   Before responding to that question, let me turn it around. Why, given that there are no laws preventing them f...
15 September 2007, by

Apology for sketchy references

I've been thinking about this – the application of robotics to horticulture on a scale large enough to replace (some significant portion of) conventional agriculture – for a very long time, and I'...
14 September 2007, by

Why use robots, round 2

One measure by which conventional agriculture likes to judge itself, the output per man hour, or, put another way, the percentage of the population directly engaged in crop production, is seriously mi...
13 September 2007, by

Why use robots?

It's going to take more than a single post to answer that question. There are so many reasons that it's hard to keep track of them all.   From an ecological point of view, robots can help ...
12 September 2007, by

Getting there from here

If you look at the current state of agriculture, and also at the preponderance of robotics work related to it, there isn't much encouragement to be found for a vision of machines bringing better pract...
07 June 2007, by

The robotics of place

The following is only slightly reworked from three posts I wrote, one after the other, in 1999. These posts together formed the starting point of a topic with the surprising title "The Robotics of Pl...
24 December 2006, by

Open source robotics toolkits

IBM developerWorks is a great resource.   This developerWorks article discusses open source software for modeling and testing robotic designs in software.   (Found on AI Buzz. [2...
11 September 2006, by







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