If there’s one industry that stands out in its need for automation, it’s agriculture. In the United States, agriculture relies heavily on immigrant labor. Agriculture involves a lot of jobs that Americans aren’t willing to do.
It also involves jobs that are dangerous and difficult. That’s not a coincidence. But automation is supposed to solve that problem.
In the past, it was very hard to come up with agricultural robots. Robots generally aren’t good with variable shapes, and fruits and vegetables are pretty variable. However, between improvements in robot “vision” and produce bred to be more uniform, this is less of a problem.
Robots also haven’t historically been very delicate in the way they handle objects. Fruits and vegetables bruise easily, so this has also been an issue. Again, improvements have been made.
And robots are increasingly able to gather data and send it in for analysis. As their skills increase, agriculture has come up with more ways to use this ability.
There are now a number of agricultural robots in use or in development:
Robotnik has Vinbot, an “autonomous cloud-computing vineyard robot” which roams vineyards estimating yield, so vintners can make the right decisions about harvesting, resources, and more.
Bosch has TrimBot2020, an autonomous rose bush trimmer based on an automatic lawnmower. It has 3-D computer vision and customization options.
Bosch also makes BoniRob, a robot that can not only do precision spraying, but also gathers data for phenotyping and other agricultural research.
AgResearch has AgriRover, a multipurpose agricultural robot based on NASA’s Mars rover.
Rexroth has combines and harvesters that use automation in novel ways to increase efficiency and production. Rexroth also makes feller bunchers — machines that can gather felled trees and transport them.
Blue River Technologies, now owned by John Deere, is developing robots that can distinguish between crops and weeds. This should revolutionize pesticide use.
In fact, the impact of automation in farming could change the future of agriculture in the United States completely.
In the meantime, when you need support with your Rexroth electric motion control technology, you should call us first. We’re specialists, so we can provide the level of expertise you need.