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These May Be The Droids Farmers Are Looking For

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The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-12-11 11:21 AM
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These May Be The Droids Farmers Are Looking For
When it comes to farm robots, fruit gets all the attention. But it looks like trees and shrubs could win the prize for first significant agricultural market for small mobile robots.

Massachusetts startup Harvest Automation is beta testing a small mobile robot that its pitching to nurseries as the solution to their most pressing problem: a volatile labor market.

...

Harvest Automation bootstrapped the development of prototype robots and received its seed funding from its customers, said CEO Charles Grinnell. The company landed $5 million in venture capital funding from Life Sciences Partners, the Midpoint Food & Ag Fund, and the Massachusetts Technology Development Corporation.

In todays human-tended nurseries, immature potted trees and shrubs arrive at nurseries by truck and are offloaded onto the ground. Teams of migrant workers undocumented for the most part spread the plants out one by one following markers outlining a grid. When the plants are ready to be shipped out later in the season, workers reverse the process to group the plants for loading onto trucks. Weve recognized the need for robotics in the nursery industry for moving pots because its one of our highest concentrations of labor use, said Tom Demaline, president of Willoway Nurseries, Inc. in Avon, Ohio.



http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/11/mobile-farm-robots/
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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-12-11 11:23 AM
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1. "seed funding" (snicker)
Sorry, just a funny phrase given the subject.

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Speck Tater Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-12-11 12:40 PM
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2. In the movie "Sleep Dealer" migrant workers in Mexico worked remotely via robots in US orchards.
They also stayed in Mexico while operating remote construction robots building US skyscrapers. Interesting concept. Companies could outsource the labor without moving the factory to a different country. And they could switch to a cheaper country in the blink of an eye. Workers everywhere in the world could be uniformly exploited with impunity.
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