Robot farmers: ‘This is the revolution’

| | October 23, 2018
Image Credit: Small Robot Company
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

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.

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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

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