When will we have robots on the farm?

Jon Lawson

Farmers have always been interested in how new technology can increase yields and now with advances in AI and autonomy a robot revolution could be upon us. 

American start-up Future Acres is launching Carry, an electric barrow designed to help with the manual labour side of harvesting. Suma Reddy, CEO of Future Acres said, “The agricultural industry is facing a seemingly never-ending list of challenges on a financial, worker and sustainability level. Our vision with Carry was to develop a tool and system that could help alleviate these stressors and move the industry forward by providing a helpful operational solution capable of supporting workers by reducing the physical toll – back pain, twisted ankles and shoulder inquires no longer need to be the normal. Carry is the future of harvesting and will make an immediate impact on the lives of those in the field each and every day, all while reducing costs and helping farmers to stay profitable.”

Seasonal labour has long been an issue at harvest time. The inventors claim the new robot could pay for itself in just 80 days by increasing production efficiency by up to 30% while hauling over 200Kg. It autonomously follows farmworkers over a day’s work, and it comes with a 7–10 hour swappable battery with up to 16Km range. The designers predict one machine operating in the field could result in up to US$13,500 in efficiency gain per season, and with multiple Carrys operating autonomously to transport crops back and forth, up to 10 workers can stay focused on picking quality crops. Over time the makers hope to add sensor tech to more accurately monitor various useful aspects of farming such as pesticide use.

The US is the initial target market, with backers Wavemaker Labs helping with the technology and cashflow in the first instance. Anyone can invest via equity crowdfunding. 

• Read more about AI in farming here.


Recent Issues