Vertical farms in urban areas ready to grow after harvesting tons of seed money

Even if you’ve never heard the term before, you probably understand what “vertical farming” is. 

Unlike some buzz phrases, it sounds like what it means – farms built upwards, inside a building on multiple levels, unlike traditional farms, which occupy large, flat, single-level fields, covering thousands of acres of earth if done on an industrial scale.

The concept of vertical farms has been around a long time, but perhaps only now is the technology available to sustain the sector commercially.  Continue reading Vertical farms in urban areas ready to grow after harvesting tons of seed money

Plenty attracts ‘largest-ever agriculture technology investment’ led by SoftBank to develop indoor farms in city centres

A company called Plenty claims it has attracted the “largest-ever agriculture technology investment”. 

The company says the investment will drive its development of its global, large-scale indoor farm network to deliver “radically fresher, affordable food to local communities everywhere”.

Plenty describes itself as a “field-scale indoor farming company remaking the global food system”.  Continue reading Plenty attracts ‘largest-ever agriculture technology investment’ led by SoftBank to develop indoor farms in city centres

Global agriculture robots market driven by ‘high population growth and food shortages’

The global market for agricultural robots is forecast to exceed $5 billion by 2024, according to a report. 

The Global Agriculture Robots Market Report, published by Variant Market Research, predicts the global market will reach $5,214 million by 2024 from $968 million in 2016 – growing at an annual rate of 23.4 per cent from 2016 to 2024.

By geography, Asia Pacific and rest of the world are expected to grow at 24.7 per cent and 24.1 per cent respectively, during the forecast period.  Continue reading Global agriculture robots market driven by ‘high population growth and food shortages’

Gardening robot raises more than $300,000 on Kickstarter

franklin weed-killing robot 2

A gardening robot has raised more than $312,000 on Kickstarter despite its owners setting a goal of $120,000.

Led by the inventor of the Roomba, the Boston-based Franklin Robotics is currently raising funds for their first release – a solar-powered, robotic weed-killer for home gardens.

Named Tertill, the 2.5-pound, disk-shaped robot patrols the garden and intelligently identifies – and whacks – unwanted plants.  Continue reading Gardening robot raises more than $300,000 on Kickstarter

Harvest Croo Robotics field tests autonomous strawberry-picking vehicle

harvest croo strawberry picking robot interior view

Harvest Croo Robotics is field testing an autonomous vehicle designed to help plant and pick strawberries, according to a report on ThePacker.com

The new vehicle looks rather unlike your typical farm vehicle, and is designed to straddle six strawberry beds as it moves along. It uses GPS navigation, LiDAR vision and carries 16 robots which will do the actual planting and picking of the strawberries.

The robots will use a proprietary vision system which will identify which strawberries are ready to be picked (probably based on colour as robots can’t smell or taste yet as far as we know). Picked strawberries will then be moved to the platform level for further inspection and grading.  Continue reading Harvest Croo Robotics field tests autonomous strawberry-picking vehicle

Self-steering Volvo truck set to increase Brazil’s sugar-cane harvest

Volvo Trucks has developed a new self-steering truck that it says could become a significant productivity booster for Brazilian sugar-cane growers.

The truck, which is used to transport newly harvested sugar-cane, is steered with “great precision” through the fields in order to avoid damaging the young plants that will form the following year’s crop.

At present, about 4 per cent of the crop is lost as young plants are run over and the soil is compacted by moving vehicles. This can translate into tens of thousands of US dollars in lost revenue per truck per season.  Continue reading Self-steering Volvo truck set to increase Brazil’s sugar-cane harvest

Grimme marks 80 years since first automated potato harvesting machine

grimme potato machine

In Germany alone, over 10 million tonnes of potatoes are harvested each year. Worldwide, the total even exceeds 341 million tonnes.

More than 80 years ago, Grimme developed the first potato harvesting machine. A great deal has happened since that time, and now Grimme is said to be the world market leader in potato harvesting technology.

Besides the actual harvesting, efficient storage technology is equally important to ensure that potatoes remain available in top quality to meet demand.  Continue reading Grimme marks 80 years since first automated potato harvesting machine

Tend claims launch of first ‘smart cloud’ to enable remote control of robots

tend.ai in.control

Tend says its new in.control platform is the first smart cloud robotics platform for remote control, monitoring and analysis of production lines. 

Tend announced it has introduced the first hardware-agnostic, smart cloud robotics software platform that allows manufacturers to remotely control, monitor and analyze the performance of their robots and production equipment from their mobile devices.

Tend’s in.control – short for “intelligent control” – software has made smart manufacturing simple and accessible for companies of all sizes, allowing them to monitor and control any robot, tending any machine, from any location.  Continue reading Tend claims launch of first ‘smart cloud’ to enable remote control of robots

Bosch reports increased sales of €73 billion. Wins massive new sensor contract from Apple

Bosch’s robotics expert, Kai Arras,
Bosch’s robotics expert, Kai Arras, with one of the company’s robots in development

Bosch – one of the world’s largest industrial companies, producing a wide variety of engineered products, from automotive components to home appliances – has reported increased sales for the year 2016. 

In a press conference last week to launch the German giant’s annual report, Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner listed the key figures:

  • sales rose from €70.6 billion in 2015 to €73.1 billion last year; and
  • earnings before tax in 2016 reached a total of €4.3 billion.

Sales in all business segments and geographical regions had increased, added Denner.

As positive as the figures may seem, Denner said the company was nonetheless undergoing “profound transformation”, partly brought about by a range of new technologies which are changing the global industrial landscape, and because diesel engines may be phased out.  Continue reading Bosch reports increased sales of €73 billion. Wins massive new sensor contract from Apple

Connected asparagus: Bosch outlines vision of a future with connected factories and robotic farmers

Bosch Apas workstation, which includes a cobot the company claims is “the first collaborative robot to be certified as an assistance system”

One of the world’s largest engineering companies, Bosch, has outlined its vision of the future, which includes a world full of smart factories, robotic farmers and connected asparagus. 

Bosch made its views available to Robotics and Automation News in a series of documents sent to us this week.

The company believes two main areas of technological development stand out from the rest: connectivity and sensors.  Continue reading Connected asparagus: Bosch outlines vision of a future with connected factories and robotic farmers

Robotics technology for picking farm produce

https://www.flickr.com/photos/vinothchandar/7682960854
Farm workers in India. Picture by Vinoth Chandar

By Nandini Kranti 

The use of robotics technology in industrial systems is quite common, but in the agricultural sector, robotics and automation technology still retains a novelty and fascination, and is still to make a widespread impact on labor-intensive tasks.

The discussion on man versus machine has come too far. Artificial intelligence was the key addition that tipped scales in favor of the latter. Precise and iterative line functions in industrial processes are handled by well-programmed robots.

Material handling is seldom an issue in this setup since a great deal of customization goes into each design in the pre-installation phase.  Continue reading Robotics technology for picking farm produce

Autonomous Tractor boss says new technology can help farmers halve their costs

autonomous tractor

The Autonomous Tractor Corporation is close to launching a range of new technologies which it says will help farmers halve their equipment costs. 

In exclusive comments to Robotics and Automation News, Kraig Schulz, CEO of ATC, says the company’s latest eDrive system would cost between $250 and $500 per horsepower.

This is approximately half the cost of a new tractor, which costs anywhere between around $750 and $1,000 per hp.

Schulz says: “The system costs will obviously depend on configuration, horsepower, and so on, but we can have a retrofit eDrive system for a 325 hp sprayer done, installed, ready to go for about $75,000 which is a little less than having the whole thing rebuilt with hydrostatic drives – about $80,000. Continue reading Autonomous Tractor boss says new technology can help farmers halve their costs

Market for agricultural robots and drones to grow to $10 billion, says report

english-aerial-landscape

The market for robots and drones in the agricultural sector is predicted to grow to $10 billion by 2022, according to a new study. 

The report by IDTechEx Research, Agricultural Robots and Drones 2016-2026: Technologies, Markets and Players, says there is already a $3 billion market in 2016, and will rise to $10 billion by 2022.

Some of the promising technologies that are available to help farmers increase yield without negative environmental factors, are to be discussed at a NIAB and Agri-Tech East event – Innovations for Sustainable Intensification, on 14 September in Cambridge, UK.  Continue reading Market for agricultural robots and drones to grow to $10 billion, says report

CNH launches driverless tractor for agriculture applications

CNH Industrial, the agricultural technology giant, is showcasing its new autonomous tractor.

The company says the driverless vehicle will boost precision and productivity in the farming sector.

CNH says the autonomous tractor will enable better use of labor, integration into current machinery fleets, and bring the flexibility to work unmanned around the clock with real time data monitoring – and, in the future, the ability to automatically respond to weather events.

That’s what the concept autonomous tractor technology developed by CNH Industrial could bring to future world agriculture, following its public preview at the 2016 Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, USA.  Continue reading CNH launches driverless tractor for agriculture applications

Robots planning to raid orchards: Abundant Robotics to automate apple harvests

abundant robotics apples

Agricultural technology startup company Abundant Robotics to launch a robot with a taste for apples 

SRI International, a technology research organisation, is to spin-out and launch Abundant Robotics, an agriculture technology company focused on helping make nutritious foods such as apples and other tree fruits more accessible.

Abundant will commercialize and build on several years of research initiatives in agricultural robotics at SRI.

Dan Steere, CEO of Abundant Robotics, says: “While orchard yields have significantly improved over the last two decades, labor productivity has not. Continue reading Robots planning to raid orchards: Abundant Robotics to automate apple harvests