What do you think of when you hear “robo-farming” or “robot farm”? It’s pretty obvious, right? You know how farmers wake up at the crack of dawn to the sound of a robotic rooster call, and then, wiping the sleep from their eyes, they don a pair of denim overalls and head to the fields to plant tiny, little robot-shaped seeds in the ground. After a few weeks of bountiful sunshine and plenty of water, they pick a crop of fresh-from-the-vine robots when they’re ripe and juicy. These farmers then set up roadside stands to sell industrial robots to eager factory owners from the city.
As quaint as that may seem, a robot farm is something entirely different.
Robots are typically associated with manufacturing, packaging, and other types of industry rather than farming and agriculture. With the exception, maybe, of heavy farm equipment and milking machines, most people wouldn’t associate robotics with crops, fields, and barnyards. But with new advancements in robotics technology, robots and automation are becoming more common in more areas, including agriculture.
Robots and automation could soon revolutionize farming.
A Japanese company called Spread is hoping to open the world’s first robot farm. The company built a vegetable factory in 2007 that is capable of producing 21,000 heads of lettuce a day. When this factory was built, humans were an integral part of the process. However, Spread wants to use industrial machines to automate all but one step of the process.
Humans would still be responsible for planting the seeds, but robots would be in charge of everything else. The goal is to have this robot farm up and running by next year.
The company believes that increasing automation in the farm/factory would up the production to 50,000 plants a day. As impressive as it is to more than double production, the company is hoping to increase production to half a million pants in the next 5 years.
This is a testament to recent improvements in automation, and the improvements that automation can make in many industries. Perhaps one day all farming will be done by robots. It would certainly be interesting to see how automation could help with feeding the world’s population.