Silicon Valley Robot Farm
The newest advancement in the ever-growing field of artificial intelligence aims to improve upon one of the key components of basic human civilization: agriculture. Iron Ox, a Silicon Valley based startup, has created a farm that relies primarily on the labor of robots and uses mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent instead of soil. This hydroponic system allows for the farm to produce up to 30 times more yield per acre than a traditionally run farm, in part because it permits year-round growth without necessitating the presence of farmable land. In addition to the hydroponic technology, the farm utilizes a fully independent self-driving robot that moves about the property performing all the simple chores.
The only human labor required in the process is planting the seedlings and packaging the final product for delivery, while the robot is responsible for everything in between, handling all of the menial tasks such as watering and harvesting. Farms nationwide have begun to incorporate automated technology that cut outs other repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as weed control, pruning, spraying, thinning, and sorting.
While Iron Ox just recently began selling their produce, the results have been excellent. Currently the farm supplies three types of greens to a local grocery store only 0.6 miles away at prices on par with reputable and nationally popular chains like Whole Foods, and the greens are reported to have been consistently sold out.
The locality of the seller allows for low production costs as well as a lesser physical footprint, and the way the farm can function without arable land implies that farms like this one could be opened near any grocery store around the country. While Iron Ox is the first of its kind, there is promise that this type of model can be popularized and potentially revolutionize modern agriculture.
Written by Derek Chiang & Edited by Alexander Fleiss