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How small robots may kill the tractor and make farming efficient

Food Security Smart Cities


Farming robots can improve crop yield and reduce the environmental impact of farming. Ben Scott-Robinson, the co-founder of Small Robot Company (SRC), says that farming costs have increased in the last three decades even though revenues and yields are consistent. Scott-Robinson, along with co-founder and farmer Sam Watson-Jones, are trying to change farming machines by asking farmers what they want, what issues they face and what ideas they have. A great cost for farmers is the cost of tractors. The traditional tractors are important for farms but they also damage the environment and crush soil. Then, PhD students at the University of Bristol helped SRC create Jack. Jack is a “base” robot that can be modified with booms and customized to complete various tasks. Jack can place seeds by becoming “Harry”. If a non-chemical weeding or spraying boom is added to Jack, it’s now “Dick”. Rachel is a monitoring robot that can get a plant by plant view of the fields. Rachel collects data about the plants and this can be used by farmers to find out more about their plants and how to increase yields. The SRC also designed Wilma, an AI system that will differentiate between wheat and non-wheat. Wilma will guide the robots to spray and farm the patches of land. This new approach by SRC will be an alternative to the traditional methods being currently used.

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