The food industry is no stranger to automation, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) catalyzing a digital revolution across various sectors. However, the focus is now shifting to agricultural robots, or ‘Agribots’, as companies explore how technological advancements can streamline harvesting processes.
The Dawn of Fruit-Picking Robots
In a bid to optimize harvesting, tech firms are designing autonomous robots for fruit picking. These flying robots, propelled by AI and intricate algorithms, could potentially revolutionize the way we harvest.
However, as the debate on AI supplanting human jobs continues, it’s crucial to assess whether such technology will truly enhance the food industry.
Could Robots Reshape the Food Supply Chain?
These agile robots operate tirelessly, offering cost-effective solutions for farmers. Notably, Tevel’s software provides real-time updates on orchard harvests.
The data accumulated offers farmers unprecedented insights into each bin’s specific characteristics before delivery to the packing house, eliminating uncertainties about market value, quality, and output, while also enhancing on-site efficiencies.
Farmers can also readily access information such as the quantity of harvested fruit, its weight, color grading, ripeness, diameter, timestamp, geolocation of each fruit, and other essential data.
The Role of Agribots in Crop Management
Equipped with sensors and 3D cameras, Agribots can ascertain which fruits are ripe, measure sugar content, and even detect diseases. They operate autonomously, making decisions independently. Some even use electrostatic charges, mimicking bees, to aid pollination.
Interestingly, honeybees have significantly contributed to AI research, with their decision-making processes potentially influencing the development of robots and autonomous vehicles. This highlights the crucial role of bees in the food industry, particularly their contribution to pollination and food supply chains.
It’s fascinating to ponder how these critical aspects of food sourcing and production could be replicated by robots and AI tools. But further research and practical application are required to fully realize this potential.
The Interplay of AI and Manual Labour
AI is already making strides in the food sector, with companies like Siemens aiding the indoor farming industry’s expansion to meet global food supply demands, leveraging AI and Machine Learning (ML) to maintain plant health.
With around 500 agrotech companies in Israel alone, there’s a significant contribution to global food innovation. Tevel’s technology, for instance, is utilized on farms in the US, Italy, and Israel.
Tech companies have created fruit-picking drones and tree-pollinating devices to improve farm efficiency amid worker shortages and climate change. In Chile, flying robots use AI/ML to identify ripe apples before plucking them from the tree.
Yet, current solutions aren’t flawless. Robots face challenges navigating around tree branches, impacting the total fruit yield. Additionally, detecting worm-infested fruits remains a hurdle.
Addressing these issues is paramount for the continued use of agribots. As it stands, manual labor still holds an irreplaceable role in the food industry.