Advances in farming robotics could address shortage in agricultural workers

By Steve Brachmann for IPWatchDog:  More and more, the agricultural world is looking towards the mechanization of labor processes through robotics as a way of potentially increasing their productivity. Robotics was identified as a sector of investment growth in agricultural tech by an April 2014 white paper on agriculture technologies published by the entrepreneurship and education non-profit Kauffman Foundation. Robotics is a regular focus of ours here on IPWatchdog, most recently visited in our coverage of the incredible advancements in walking and jumping robotics pioneered by Boston Dynamics, a Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) subsidiary. With American farmers already heavily involved in the regulatory conversation involving the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, we thought that it would be interesting to delve into the world of farming robotics and see the recent advances in that particular field.

It’s important to understand first that the robotics being developed for commercial use on farms won’t be stand-alone humanoid units ranging through fields to pick crops. Any piece of hardware implementing an algorithm which automates some of the manual work of farming falls under this heading. One good example of this is the LettuceBot, a precision thinning technology which works to visually characterize plants in a lettuce row, identify which plants to keep and eliminating unwanted plants to optimize yield. The unit doesn’t move by itself but is guided along by a tractor instead. The technology has been developed by Blue River Technology of Sunnyvale, CA, a company which has attracted $13 million in investment between 2011 and 2014 to commercialize this product. The LettuceBot’s creators hope toprovide the technology as a third-party service to farm owners before manufacturing the unit for commercial sale.  Cont'd...

Stony Brook University Helps Prepare Next Generation of Farmers by Introducing a Hydroponic 'Freight Farm' On Campus

Cited as 4th most environmentally responsible university* in 2015, SBU is first higher ed campus to get a Freight Farm.

Naturipe Farms challenges developers to invent the next generation automated blueberry harvesting system

A total of $250,000 USD in prize money to be awarded for a successful device or method that optimizes the quality and condition of harvested FRESH blueberries

AgBot 2016 Powers $50,000 Grant for Grizzly RUV

Although farming has become mechanized, the evolution of agricultural techniques to include unmanned robots provides a unique opportunity.

AgTechTalk Owner Chad Colby Joins 2015 Commercial UAV Expo Advisory Board

Colby to provide insight on UAV technology as a tool for agriculture industry as an Advisory Board member for SPAR Point Group's 2015 Commercial UAV Expo

Trimble Launches NextSwath End-of-Row Turn Technology to Improve Operator Performance and Crop Yield for Agriculture

This efficient and consistent end-of-row turning saves time and increases productivity

AGROBOT: Strawberry Harvesters

From AGROBOT:

AGB® manages a set of robotic manipulators able to locate and identify your strawberries, selecting them based on their size and degree of ripeness.

This system analyzes your fruit one by one, and it is responsible for ordering cutting movements that guarantee accuracy, smoothness, and sensitivity in the strawberry treatment. The fruit, picked with the strictest hygiene conditions, is driven by our FlexConveyor System to the packaging area. Select the ripeness you would pick up.

AGvision ® is an artificial vision system that identifies your fruit with maximum accuracy and consistency. Its advanced technology, implement in real time a protocol for morphological and color analysis which systematically return the ripeness of the fruit, discriminating exclusively those strawberries which meets the quality standards previously set by the farmer... (more details)

Western Growers Steps Up to Advance Ag Technology: Will Join Forces with SVG Partners

Becomes Strategic Partner of Forbes Reinventing America: The AgTech Summit

Trimble Acquires HarvestMark to Provide Food Traceability and Quality Control

Acquisition Enables Trimble to Provide Food Quality Inspection and Food Traceability to Producers, Distribution Centers and Retailers

Harvest CROO Robotics Develops Strawberry Picker, the Latest Solution in Agricultural Robotics

Harvest CROO Robotics is developing and beginning to test an automated strawberry picker which will save strawberry growers time and money and revolutionize the way strawberries are harvested.

Precision Farming Expo 2015

This year attendees can expect to see a lot of Ag focused drone systems and also enjoy interfacing with the people making them but that is not all. Our focus this year is on the "Drones, Data, Droids and Dirt."

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