In a quiet corner of rural Hampshire, a robot called Rachel is pootling around an overgrown field. With bright orange casing and a smartphone clipped to her back end, she looks like a cross between an expensive toy and the kind of rover used on space missions. Up close, she has four USB ports, a disc-like GPS receiver, and the nuts and bolts of a system called Lidar, which enables her to orient herself using laser beams ….
Watching her progress from a corner of the field are three people from the Small Robot Company, and the farmer who co-owns the land. Jamie Butler grows wheat – an uncertain business that can easily tip into the red ….
What does he make of Rachel? “This is the revolution,” he says. And he could well be right: if the robot working in this field is the shape of farming to come, it could have dramatic implications for our food security and the natural world.
The alarming decline in the number of bees in Europe, the US and beyond is linked to the use of insecticides; the equally sobering fall in bird populations has been traced to the same source …. robot farming offers alternatives to all these things, and hope of an eventual ecological renaissance.
[Editor’s note: Studies suggest pesticides aren’t harming bees.]
Read full, original article: ‘We’ll have space bots with lasers, killing plants’: the rise of the robot farmer