It’s National Farmers Day, and you can be sure that farmers aren’t worrying about losing their jobs to robots.
Robots are currently not very good at many farm tasks. They can’t plant seedlings. They have trouble distinguishing ripe fruit or even recognizing leaves. They don’t have the delicacy to work on one particular plant out of many, and they’re inclined to slop water all over everything. A modern farmer may use drones to gather information from the air above the crops and drive ever smarter tractors, but they still need human beings down on the farm.
Yet the market for AgBots is expected to grow to $16.8 billion by the end of 2020. Why? The demand for agricultural automation, or “precision agriculture” as it is often called, is huge and growing.
So why does a field in which robots are relatively unsuccessful show such high demand?
The primary factors:
- Lack of farm workers
- Increasing labor costs
- Growth of population
- Reduction in available farm land
- Climate change
These aren’t small, tweakable problems. They are all problems that call for increased productivity with fewer resources. They might be problems that automation can help to solve, however.
Unfortunately, a new report from the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, and representatives of private industry from DHS’s Public-Private Analytic Exchange Program suggests that AgBots are vulnerable to cybercrime.
Messing with the GPS, injecting rogue data, or disclosing sensitive information — hackers could make a lot of trouble if they get into the food supply.
On top of all this, agricultural automation has a hard time competing on price with today’s farming.
There’s no question: robotics will continue to work on AgBots. It’s a race against time.
If your Rexroth industrial electric drive and motion cotrol seems to be in its own race against time, call us first. We’re Rexroth specialists, from legacy components to the latest thing. We’ll get you back up and running fast.