Illustration of the synergy obtained by combining the commercial remote controlled Spider (top left) with the autonomous AgRobot research platform (top left) from The Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural Engineering. The vision is the Spider mounted with the HortiBot accessory kit, which transform it into a tool carrier for high-tech weeding for example of organic grown onions (middle). The bottom picture shows the delivery from this project -- a robust and simple tool carrier of e.g. a laser weeding tool for the outdoor gardener. (Source: http://www.hortibot.dk/)
Fascinating post Cabe. This article is very timely for me because I have just been asked to consider a project that will (hopefully) mechanize the planting of Miscanthus X-- 10,000 acres. Miscanthus is a plant that is used to generate biofuel so food-products can still be used for consumption. I know we are some years away from robotic planting, at least on the scale I need right now, but your article does provide very interesting possibilities. Again, many thanks for the post.
In a lot of ways so many farming jobs have already been lost due to the size of the machinery and the automation of different tasks. It would be interesting to see how many jobs have already been lost due to technology. At the same time, this technology is increasing the amount of food being grown with less people and less energy.
I agree most likely the next steps will be to incorporate current machines with newer technlogies. Right now we see a lot of GPS and mapping of yields and soils types and some use of automation to cntrol vehicles. I don't think it will be long before the tractors will drive themselves.
Thought is the movie The Matrix comes to mind with robotic farming. The bots toiled in fields of their "human-batteries." Upscale the bots, and they will do just that, but with soy-beans.. not the human race.
Good points, Cabe. The displacement of jobs can have a dreary effect. And you're right that even intellectual jobs can be less than exciting. Sometimes I think that writing is manual labor of the mind.
Good point, Cabe. Yet it's a long tradition of technology displacing workers. The printing press displaced thousands of scribes. Remember secretaries? Thankfully, in most cases, the jobs that are displaced are mind-numbing and soul-killing.
It won't be too much longer and hardware design, as we used to know it, will be remembered alongside the slide rule and the Karnaugh map. You will need to move beyond those familiar bits and bytes into the new world of software centric design.
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