Small Farm Robots
Posted on June 17, 2017 Comments (0)
The IdaBot was created by researchers at Northwest Nazarene University (Idaho, USA).
Using robots in farming is limited today but the future could see a huge growth in that use. Benefits of introducing more robots to farming include reducing the use of pesticides and chemicals to control weeds.
Reducing labor costs is also a potential benefit but at current market prices (due to high costs of robotics and available cheap labor) that is more something for the future than today. However that can change fairly quickly – as for example the collapse in solar panel costs have made solar energy economically very attractive. In areas with high labor costs (Japan etc.) or areas where there are active efforts to reduce the supply of labor (in the USA where a significant portion of labor does not have proper visa to work in the USA and the current administration is seeking to reduce that labor availability) robots become more attractive economically.
“With strawberry-picking being slow and labor-intensive, and labor scarce and expensive — the average agricultural worker in Japan is over 70 years old – the robot is quickly likely to become the cheaper option,” it said.
Lux Research also forecast European lettuce-growing — a major industry on the continent — would become automated by 2028.
“Automated lettuce weeding is already competitive with human labor in Europe, thanks to regulatory limitations on agrochemicals. Lettuce thinning is still accomplished manually at lower cost, but robots are likely to reach breakeven with human labor in 2028,”
The global market for agricultural robots will explode to $73.9 billion by 2024, up from $3.0 billion 2015
Related: For Many Crops Ants Can Provide Pest Protection Superior or Equal to Chemicals at a Much Lower Cost – Sustainable Ocean Farming – Cool Robot Locomotion: Transforms from Wheeled to Walking For Stairs and Rough Terrain (2012) – Lean Science: Using Cheap Robots to Aid Research – Moth Controlled Robot (2009)