Farmers have long struggled with operational optimization and labor concerns. Finding enough labor to get the job done, as well as keeping workers safe is a constant struggle. "There is an immediate need to improve efficiency and reduce costs, especially now that the pandemic has exposed just how fragile the supply chain is," said Suma Reddy, CEO of Future Acres, an agricultural robotics and artificial intelligence company. "We saw shortages in both production and more workers being put at risk when picking specialty crops on a daily basis that have really caused the industry to take a step back and re-examine how we can create greater resiliency in the food chain." One idea is to equip farms with a combination of AI and robotics that can "think through" as well as do some of the physical work of farming.
In the near future, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence (AI) will play a larger role in how your food is grown. Farming is as old as civilization itself, but with industrialization, modern agriculture grew in scale and sophistication to degrees never seen before in history, especially during the Green Revolution of the 1950s-60s. The sector may be poised to go through another comparable evolutionary step with machines doing important jobs in the fields. The United Nations projects the global population will increase to 9.73 billion people by 2050. While 60 percent of the global population lived in rural areas 35 years ago, about 54 percent now live in urban ones.
Last week we took a look at computer vision; what it is, how it works, and some of the applications for computer vision in agtech. In case you missed last week's article, computer vision or machine vision typically refers to the use of machine learning or deep learning algorithms in image processing to allow a machine to "see" and identify objects around it. Different computer vision technologies may use a variety of camera types to act as the machine's "eyes" depending on the imaging requirements. In the case of fully autonomous vehicles, an accurate computer vision system is essential. In typical vehicles, hazard detection, navigation, and object avoidance all depend on a human operator.
Food waste could become a thing of the past thanks to an AI powered smart bin that let's you know the type of items you throw away most regularly. The system uses a camera, a set of smart scales and the same type of machine learning technology found in self-driving cars. It comes pre-programmed with common items and learns to recognise different foods being thrown away regularly. It uses this information to calculate the financial and environmental cost of this wasted food, so that you can tailor your next food order accordingly. The smart bin is currently aimed at commercial kitchens but could one day be a common feature in people's homes, the firm hopes.
Faced with seesawing commodity prices and the pressure to be more efficient and environmentally friendly, farmer Jamie Butler is trying out a new worker on his 450-acre farm in England's Hampshire countryside. Methodically inspecting Butler's winter wheat crop for weeds and pests, the laborer doesn't complain or even break a sweat. That's because it's a four-wheel robot dubbed'Tom' that uses GPS, artificial intelligence and smartphone technology to digitally map the field. Tom's creator, the Small Robot Company, is part of a wave of'agri-tech' startups working to transform production in a sector that is under economic strain due to market pressures to keep food cheap, a rising global population and the uncertainties of climate change. Most robots are still only being tested, but they offer a glimpse of how automation will spread from manufacturing plants into rural areas.
Jane Schreibman got a telephone call about 10 p.m. Saturday asking whether she was all right. Until then, the photographer hadn't realized that a bomb had exploded on 23rd Street, just four blocks from her apartment, so she bolted downstairs to take a look at what was going on. That's when she saw a strange object a few paces from her building's front door. "I thought it was a child's science experiment,'' said Schreibman, 66, in a telephone interview. It was a shiny metal pressure cooker with wires coming out and a rectangular object attached that was wrapped in duct tape.
Google has received tons of gushy press for its bubble-shaped self-driving car, though it's still years from the showroom floor. But for years John Deere has been selling tractors that practically drive themselves for use on farms in America's heartland, where there are few pesky pedestrians or federal rules to get in the way. For a glimpse at the future, meet Jason Poole, a 34-year-old crop consultant from Kansas. After a long day of meetings earlier this month and driving five hours across the state to watch his little girl's softball game, he was still able to run his John Deere tractor until 2 a.m. The land is hilly on Poole's family farm, so he drives the first curved row manually to teach the layout to his tractor's guidance system and handles the turns himself.