The focus of automation in farming has shifted from assisting humans to replacing them
The average age of Japanese farmers is 67. Across all developed countries, the average age of growers is 60. Robotics and automation technologies are just now reaching the stage where agricultural robots can replace human farmers for many or most crop growing tasks.
Kubota is also developing and marketing a suit-like device to help farmers harvest and carry fruit and vegetables. The ministry expects the robots, which can be put on like a backpack, to be able to help elderly and female farmers in field work that is difficult to be automated.
“Applying new technologies to farming will boost the appeal of agriculture to younger people and help increase their participation in the sector,” said Takaki Shigemoto, analyst at JSC Corp., researcher in Tokyo. __ http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-23/robots-replacing-japan-s-farmers-seen-preserving-food-security
The global market for agricultural robots will explode to $73.9 billion by 2024, up from $3.0 billion 2015, according to Tractica, a market intelligence firm. It forecast driverless tractors would generate the most revenue — $30.7 billion by 2024 — with agricultural drones clocking up the most unit shipments.
From Business Insider:
French inventor Christophe Millot created an autonomous bot, called the Wall-Ye, that helps to prune and harvest grapes at vineyards.
Using infrared sensors and scissor-hands, it can detect and snip weak vines as well as monitor the health of the soil and grapes.
Before it can start working, the system is programmed with a map of the vineyard so that it knows where to go.
The BoniRob destroys 120 weeds per minute.
The BoniRob roams through fields and finds weeds, stomping out two per second with a 1-centimeter-wide drill. That way, the weeds won’t overrun the crops.
Abundant Robotics’ bot picks one ripe apple per second.
The bots were designed to to remove one fruit per second without damaging any part of the fruit or tree, TechCrunch notes. As seen above, a built-in tube sucks up the apples like a vacuum.
The Blue River Lettuce Bot thins out lettuce fields.
Developed by the California-based startup Blue River, the device attaches to a tractor. Using sensors, it can detect insects and weeds and spray pesticides only on those areas.
In the future, Blue River hopes to modify the Lettuce Bot to kill weeds without any chemicals — perhaps with a rotating blade.
In addition, it can thin out lettuce fields, killing a portion of the plants so the rest have room to grow. According to Blue River, it can treat about 5,000 plants in a minute.
Because of the coming shortage of farmers in developed countries, robots are being developed that are capable of assuming more and more farming and ranching roles.
This machine picks strawberries with alarming speed and efficiency. Sensors on the robotic arms can actually tell which berries are ripe and which aren’t based on the shape and size of the unpicked berry. It even packs them in boxes!
Autonomous Tractor Spirit
The all-electric Spirit hay mower by Autonomous Tractor mows hay like nobody’s business. It’s advertised as being 25 percent more energy efficient and looks highly robotic.
Conic System Pro-300
Although it looks like some sort of manufacturing device, the Pro-300 from Conic System is actually a highly specialized sowing robot for greenhouses. Need some seed sowed in some trays? This machine can sow 1,000 trays an hour.
Energid Citrus Picking System
This big but low cost orange-picking gadget can clear an orange tree for as little or less than what human labor would cost. That means picking an orange every two to three seconds which might sound slow. But remember: This robot never gets tired.
Clearpath Robotics Grizzly
The Grizzly doesn’t have a cab, because the all-terrain robot doesn’t need a driver. This electric vehicle does the work of a super smart tractor. With attached sensors, it can actually smell where cows peed and treat the grass automatically so that it regrows.
ASI Forge Platform
This slim robotic platform can accommodate over 100 attachments, everything from a drill to a fork lift. That makes the ASI Forge Robotic Platform useful across many industries but especially helpful in tight farming situations like orchards or vineyards.
Vision Robotics Grapevine Pruner
Pruning is an essential if tedious task when maintaining healthy grapevines, but this robot will do it for you. On the outside it looks like a big blue box; inside there are grapevine snipping arms that only look a little bit scary. __ More information and photos at Gizmodo
It should be clear that the demand for qualified robotics technicians, repairmen, programmers, and networkers, is due to skyrocket across the temperate zone breadbasket regions of the developed world.
A little known fact: farms are already amongst the most prominent adopters of robotic technology.
Lely, which is based in the Netherlands, has a fleet of over 20,000 milking robots installed throughout the world. The Lely Astronaut A4 box allows cows to be milked when they choose so, instead of when the farmer needs it to be done. The robot attaches incoming cows to the teat cups, reattaches them if required, and detaches them after milking. As an added bonus, data about the cows is collected, which can help the farmer monitor the herd and take action should a problem arrive, or simply to improve yield. __ Robohub
Above the new automated robot farms, autonomous flying drones armed with hellfire missiles and autonomous machine gun emplacements will be used to monitor farms and protect fields and equipment from thieves, vandals, and Luddites. Robots will need to look out for each other. 😉
New agricultural technologies will be used by the full spectrum of farming interests — from the giant conglomerate to the small one person landholder who wishes to live off the land (survivalists, solitarians, etc.), or persons who cultivate a niche agricultural product for select customers (special mushrooms, custom wine grapes, etc.).
The application of automation to farming opens agriculture to large numbers of people who otherwise would be shut out due to lack of time and expertise. And as mentioned above, the new technology will allow ageing farmers to bring in the crops more easily and far longer than they would otherwise be capable of doing.
Large farms and conglomerates will employ their own robot repairmen, programmers, network administrators, 3D print parts makers, and operation overseers. Medium sized farms are likely to employ a small number of robot technicians to oversee operations, perform simple repairs, and call in contractors for more significant maintenane needs. Small farmers are likely to learn many of the skills required to operate and maintain their robots, calling in outside help only when farming operations are threatened or during off seasons.
Farm assistants will be hired for their intelligence, resourcefulness, and tech savvy. New generation small farmers will self-select for the same charateristics.