The robots revolutionising agriculture

The robots revolutionising agriculture
    Having a robot to do all of your gardening jobs may be a long way off, but that isn't stopping technology experts from developing new ways to bring technology into the world of horticulture.

Robot lawnmowers already exist, cloud computing can regulate hydroponics systems and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is developing a fully-automated robot garden.

Charles Grinnell is an expert pioneering new gardening techniques. He's certainly used to being at the cutting-edge of new developments, having worked on the largest particle detector ever constructed at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Not content with having helped to develop the machine that confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson particle, he's turned his intellect to the world of robot gardening.

His robots play a crucial role in the US agriculture industry, which is currently experiencing labour shortages. They are able to carry out a large number of tasks and free up human labour for other duties.

Supervisors have to define the parameters for the machines such as the size of the plant being moved, the width of the field, the spacing between the plants, and the new configuration required for the fauna, VB News reports.

Once these have been established, the robots use an array of 20 on-board sensors to help them carry out their lifting and carrying tasks while avoiding any obstacles. 

Behaviour-based programming, developed by the MIT, enables the machines to keep track of a number of different factors, such as changing environmental conditions, simultaneously. 

Mr Grinnell says the robots are normally well received by human workers. "These are tasks that the workers don't enjoy doing. The robot does all the repetitive and physically challenging parts of the job," he said. 

"People do the more interesting things which are much harder for a robot to do. The workers turn into robot supervisors and they love it!"

His ambitions are to go even further, developing robots that carry out tasks like watering, spraying and trimming plants.

As nurseries don't have the means to treat each plant individually, they often end up wasting resources such as fertilisers – but robots could help solve this problem.

A new watering robot is set to go on the market this year. Looks like the robo-revolution is well underway.

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