The Undiscovered Country of Robotic Farming
Automation has always been a large part of farming and it is currently being implemented in increasingly popular robotic farming tools. Modern farming tools regularly utilize sensors and machine learning technology that assist in many farming tasks such as data collection, identifying weeds and crops, and picking fruits.
While robots promise to improve agriculture efficiency, they also promise to make the life of a farmer much easier.
No longer will farmers have to wake up at 5am to pick crops and work long days in the fields. Instead, automated robots will perform these tasks, and do so at a more efficient rate than a human farmer.
Additionally, these robots can perform tasks that humans are incapable of performing, such as various methods of data collection. These factors combine to create high demand for robotic farming tools that both increase efficiency and make the lives of farmers much less demanding.
According to George A. Kantor of Carnegie Mellon University, people are now realizing that data science tools which were developed in the 90s technology boom can now be applied to farming.
This includes robots which utilize their sensors to collect data about various crops. This data can aid farmers in predictive breeding, as well as deciding which crops they will ultimately sell and will make it to market. Other robots can be used to identify crops and weeds, analyzing soils and plants, and estimating crop yields.
These robots are not simple to construct. They require technology that allows them to navigate their environments and perform actions at specific locations.
For instance, a robot may need to navigate a large crop field and pick a fruit or spray a pesticide at a specific spot. This means that the robots often utilize GPS positioning when navigating large fields. These robots also may implement sensor systems that differentiate weeds from crops and apply pesticides and herbicides.
Currently, the agriculture industry is being threatened by the impacts of climate change and a rising world population. Climate change has shifted both rainfall and temperature patterns across the world, while increasing floods, droughts, and pest problems in various locations.
Data analysis can help alleviate this issues, as robots can collect data about crops that farmers can use to adjust their practices based on farming conditions. Additionally, this data can help farms become more efficient, which will aid farmers in meeting increased demand as the world’s population rises.
While farming robots promise to help increase efficiency in the agriculture industry, many of these robots however are newly developed and thus are still in their testing phase. Often times, these robots can break and run out of battery, while they can also move quite slowly.
Demand for these robots remains high due to their usefulness to farmers as they are instrumental in improving agricultural efficiency.
However, future technological improvements in these robots will be necessary if they are to be utilized at a mass scale. These improvements will allow robotic farming to improve farming yield and quality, thereby turning agriculture into a high-tech field.
Written by Glen Oh & Edited by Alexander Fleiss