An artist's rendition of how the intelligent robotics platform developed by the Clever Robots for Crops, or CROPS, project will function. The project, a collaboration between universities from a number of countries under the larger FP7 EU program, aims to design a robot that can identify and pick ripe crops, as well as target the correct plants for spraying with liquids. (Source: CROPS)
I recall the crop-picking robot at Cornell University. I would say this is starting to look like a mini-trend: picking; grasping; identifying and harvesting of crops. Seems like a tailor-made application for robotic technology.
As the article mentions, there are many new types of applications for robots. Many of these robots need to be more flexible and mobile than those used in manufacturing. With the advances in microelectronics that are driving these advances, this is becoming more economical. As with the factory automation wave, this should increase productivity.
Very interesting project. Could definitely see some high utility for crops grown in particularly arid environments, where there are difficult worker conditions due to severe sun and heat. Yet those same conditions likely pose some challenges for the robot designers which have to account for all kinds of weather and possible environmental conditions that impede performance of the equipment.
NASA and Boeing developed a huge, carbon composite cryogenic fuel tank for deep space missions, and started testing it last month. The 18-ft cryotank will enable heavy-lift launch vehicles to send both humans and robots into deep space.
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