April 23, 2016
Farming Automation And Robots

Japanese farmers are old and as they retire younger Japanese aren't replacing them. Japan imports most of its food. So what to do? Develop a variety of robots to automate farming. One Japanese company is developing a fully automated indoors farm. They expect it to be more energy efficient than outdoors farming.

Automated farming is, as one would expect, under development in other countries as well. Two different robotic weed sprayers are under testing at a Yorkshire England farm and at farms in Queensland Australia.

In Minnesota automated milking equipment boosts productivity per cow.

A robot that picks thru and sorts organic fruit is also under development.

Most farms in America have tractors with some auto steering capability. But enough things can go wrong which the tractor can't handle that humans are still in the cab. Tractor developers (e.g. John Deere) are working on enhancements to autonomous function which will eventually lead to fully autonomous tractors. Read that last link to get a sense of how many technologies are being applied to farming: Lasers, sonar, diesel electric drive trains, and lots of machine learning models.

I suspect we are going to see fully autonomous vehicles roaming around farms before we see them on the roads. Farm fields pose much fewer safety risks. Plus, some farm robots, such as for de-weeding, can be pretty small. We are also going to witness a shift of some farming indoors in very intensive, stacked trays that grow fruits and vegetables all year round.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2016 April 23 10:02 AM 

kenneth t. kendrick said at April 25, 2016 5:58 AM:

There is a fellow named bren smith who has developed a method for vertical ocean farming.Called greenwave.He raises fish,shellfish and kelp.He claims 2000 gallons of ethanol can be produced from one acre of kelp.He says that an area half the size of maine could supply all U.S. petroleum needs.He says an area the size of Washington state could feed the world.I think he is on to something.

Brett Bellmore said at April 27, 2016 2:51 AM:

Automated farm equipment can pull off things that are just flat out infeasible with humans in the loop. For instance, hyperspectral imaging plus modest power lasers permits a robot to travel through a field, identifying and individually killing weeds without pesticides.

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