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Robotics & AI Continue to Find Ways to Improve Productivity in Agriculture

The world of robotics continues to make in-roads into the complex world of agriculture with the aim of improving productivity, cutting waste and ultimately helping to lower the price of food. One such company doing this is Google’s Mineral division (formerly known as X Development), which Google founded in 2010. It has unveiled a “plant buggy” that uses artificial intelligence to analyse crops so farmers can improve their yields and save money. The autonomous, electric powered robot has so far been tested in strawberry and soybean fields in the US. It collects plant-level insights such as spotting any desirable or undesirable traits a certain plant may have. By combining the imagery gathered by the plant buggy with other information like satellite imagery, weather data and soil conditions, the team is able to create a full picture of what is happening in the field and use machine learning to identify patterns and useful insights into how plants grow and interact with their environment. Elsewhere Ukrainian start-up Reest aims to help reduce the need for low-cost seasonal labour on farms, a labour source which was brutally exposed by Covid. Reest is a system which uses AI and robotics with a custom gripper built specially to not damage the mushrooms during the picking process. The systems identifies which mushrooms are ready to be harvested and then picks, cuts and sorts them to into boxes ready to be taken buyers. The system offers hope for other soft vegetables and fruit picking on farms where autonomous systems have been limited as traditional robotic grippers have been found to damage the produce during the harvesting process.




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