Robotics is innovating every aspect of life, including agriculture and farming, renewing the future.
Farmers have always required several data and information to grow their fields; despite the general idea that considers agriculture far from high tech, indeed robotics is fundamental to improve farming, especially in this 4.0 industry era.
In fact, Big Data are necessary in agriculture, where there are way too many variables and huge territories to keep monitored. For this reason, technology and robotics are the key to support farming in innovating and turning into a sophisticated business; at the same time, those technologies could improve farmers quality of life, boosting their business and products.
Agriculture is now facing several challenges, and innovating is the only way to keep up with times: people aging and working in hard conditions even over 50; higher labor costs; climate change… For these reasons, there is robotics working on improving the future of agriculture.
Here are some of the most innovating robotic tools supporting the future of agriculture
Indeed, average age is rising and from the latest data, the average farmers age is between 50 and 58, causing major problems in small farms, where there is no young generations available to work on the fields. Therefore, the solution comes from engineering. Several multinational corporates have design special exoskeletons able to support workers (or farmers, in this case). How does it work? This kind or robot follows the farmer movements, without interfering, and eases the pressure on back, arms and knees, with a general support in lifting weights. (curious about robots as support? Check out this article about robotic arms).
Despite considering robots as big and more useful in heavy tasks, there are some special robots able to pick fruits, including small strawberries; thanks to this, farmers could pick all the fruits produced throughout the season. In fact, when it is high peak season farmers can only pay for extra labour once, and the rest of the products simply remains on the trees, till they rot. Thanks to AI and Machine Learning robots are able to understand when the fruit is ripe to pick it up, with major benefits for producers.
This is a well known technology, as it is in use in different applications since ’80s. Currently, they are in use to map, monitor and generate 3D images; in fact, fields often lay on vast territories and it is difficult to constantly monitor everywhere. Just as an example, if a person requires 11 hours to sample an acre by foot, a drone will only need a day to inspect from 500 to 1,000 acres.
Weeds are one of the biggest issues in agriculture; it is impossible to pull them one by one and, at the same time, using too much herbicide implies chemical-resistent weeds, which are stronger. In order to protect plats from pests, now there is a special robot which is able to clear brush. It required a combined work of mechanical engineering, machine learning and robotics to create such a robot; it is able, thanks to machine learning, to recognize the centre of the crops and removes weeds only once mature.