Categories: technology, economy, environment
What? The United Nations estimates that by 2050 the world will have to produce 70% more food than today to keep up with global population growth. Well aware of the unsustainable nature of the current food production system, electronic companies such as Panasonic, Toshiba, Sharp and Fujitsu are in the process of developing small, lightweight and relatively inexpensive autonomous farm vehicles and robots to conduct quick and reliable farm work. To date, robots have not had the capacity to pick soft fruits and vegetables. However, Panasonic is in the process of developing a tomato-picking robot that will have the ability to connect to the farm network, through the Internet of Things, and make accurate assessments of the colour, shape and location of each tomato.
So what? This development, combined with advancements in vertical and urban farming, could significantly impact the agricultural production system and lead to more efficient production of food. Economically profitable farming on smaller plots of land could be realized with small and relatively inexpensive equipment, which could result in the rise of organic and hobby farming. The decrease of labour as a result of automation, along will lower transportation costs, may result in lower food prices, but is also associated with the loss of jobs.
Source: ZDNet - Panasonic, Toshiba, and Sharp in race to develop farm equipment