Don’t be surprised if, the next time you visit your local nursery or greenhouse, you see robots rather than people doing some of the back-breaking work. With a shortage of workers to perform agricultural tasks, more and more farmers are enthusiastically embracing technology as a way to improve production reliably and cost-effectively.
For example, this year alone, twenty nurseries throughout the U.S. have started using the HV100 (nicknamed Harvey). Specifically designed to space and re-space plants as they grow, collect and consolidate them for retail, Harvey employs Behavior-Based Robotics to provide intelligent and adaptive functionality. As a result, it requires minimal training, no programming, and is fully autonomous, making it easy to deploy in unstructured outdoor environments.
The Department of Agriculture is funding research on several projects to create robots for a variety of agricultural applications, including harvesting fruits, sampling water in remote locations, and detecting early signs of plant pests and diseases. All of these initiatives are aimed at meeting the needs of a growing population, as it’s estimated that the demand for food will increase 70 percent by the year 2050.
For information: For information: John Kawola, Harvest Automation, Inc., 85 Rangeway Road, Building 3, Suite 210, Billerica, MA 01862; phone: 978-528-4250; Web site: www.harvestai.com