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.
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