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Future of Farming Geared for Efficient Robotic Workers
11/28/2012

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Dorhout's Prospero robot farmer looks somewhat like a mechanical spider, crawling and planting various kinds of seed in ideal locations for that particular crop.   (Source: Dorhout R&D LLC)
Dorhout's Prospero robot farmer looks somewhat like a mechanical spider, crawling and planting various kinds of seed in ideal locations for that particular crop.
(Source: Dorhout R&D LLC)

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bobjengr
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FUTURE FARMING
bobjengr   12/5/2012 6:04:02 PM
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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.

 

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Ambivalent Response
Rob Spiegel   12/3/2012 1:47:49 PM
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I agree, Jmiller. On corporate farms, a good deal of jobs have been displaced. And it's probably just as well. They were not great jobs for health or for satisfaction.

jmiller
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Re: Ambivalent Response
jmiller   11/30/2012 10:54:50 PM
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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.

jmiller
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Re: Picker robot
jmiller   11/30/2012 10:52:08 PM
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You do make a good point.  Often areas of a crop might be pickable while others are not.   And it will take time to develop a way for the robots to differentiate from ready fruit to non ready fruit.

jmiller
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Re: Size & Scale
jmiller   11/30/2012 10:49:34 PM
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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.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Picker robot
Cabe Atwell   11/30/2012 4:15:53 PM
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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.

C

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Ambivalent Response
Rob Spiegel   11/30/2012 9:50:51 AM
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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.

Tim
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Re: Picker robot
Tim   11/30/2012 7:14:03 AM
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Good point about the mud. The robots do not seem to be as reliable as a John Deere combine. Hopeefully they utilize sealed bearings and cylinders.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Ambivalent Response
Cabe Atwell   11/30/2012 12:12:05 AM
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Even though these jobs are soul-crushing. I have to admit, I felt more crushed in many of the engineering jobs I've had. At the time, I fantasized about doing manual labor jobs at those times.

All those printing press people, elevator operators, not all of them recovered. They instead just lost themselves to annals of time. Never to recover. It's a tough world.

C

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Ambivalent Response
Rob Spiegel   11/29/2012 11:26:53 PM
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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.

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