Dealers Expecting Growth in Precision Farming Activities

USAgNet: So what are retailers anticipating in 2017? Some 59% of all dealers forecast revenue growth of at least 2% this year, with about 15% projecting growth of at least 8%.

Roomba Inventor Joe Jones on His New Weed-Killing Robot

Evan Ackerman for IEEE Spectrum: Tertill is a solar-powered, weed-destroying, fully autonomous and completely self-contained robot designed for your garden.

Getting creative to fix precision equipment glitches

Nat Williams, Illinois Farmer Today: Precision equipment has streamlined farming in recent years. But what happens when something goes awry while the operator is in the middle of fieldwork?

AgTech - Not Just for Large Farms?

Bryan M. Eagle III for Observer: From field monitoring and equipment telematics to livestock biometrics and market access, AgTech is transforming large farms. But what about smaller farms?

Lettuce-Weeding Robots, Coming Soon to a Farm Near You

Sonya Mann for Inc.com: Blue River Technology is building machines that help farmers manage their crops more efficiently.

5 precision ag technologies to watch

Catie Noyes for Farm and Dairy: The world of digital agriculture is continuing to advance before our eyes, says John Fulton, associate professor in Ohio State's College of Food Agriculture and Biological Engineering.

John Deere Introduces 4640 Universal Display for Tractors

Latest display technology offers portable, user-friendly Gen 4 experience

Optical Sensors Advancing Precision in Agricultural Production

Seth Murray for Photonics.com: Emerging methods for plant phenotyping involve optical sensors - from simple RGB image sensors to NIR and Raman spectroscopy.

Abundant Robotics raises $10 million to commercialize its apple-picking robot

Brnice Magistretti for VentureBeat: Picking apples may seem like a fun weekend activity, but it's actually backbreaking manual labor. Abundant Robotics wants to help agricultural growers shoulder this task and today announced funding of $10 million, led by GV, to commercialize its apple-picking robot.

Soft Robotics debuts new vision system

Ashley Nickle for The Packer: SuperPick - short for supervisory picking - aims to provide the depth perception and recognition of 3-D using 2-D hardware and human oversight.

Why Robotics Will Change Agriculture

Rob Trice & Seana Day via Forbes: Last month as our Mixing Bowl colleagues Michael Rose and An Wang were interviewing Sonny Ranaswamy of the USDA's NIFA to better understand current US food and agriculture labor issues, we were representing The Mixing Bowl in discussions on potential solutions to food production labor issues through automation and robotics. At this year's RoboUniverse event in San Diego there was a full-day track on December 14th dedicated to the application of robotics to agriculture. The industry track, pulled together in great part by Nathan Dorn, CEO of Food Origins and an Advisor to The Mixing Bowl, featured a knowledgeable group of automation/robotics experts and food producers who drew on their experience to define the opportunities and sharpen focus on the challenges. Nathan authored a detailed summary of the day in a post on Agfunder. Our conclusion is that there is no denying that we are still in the early days of adoption of robotics in agriculture. Cont'd...

Reviving Japan's Dairy Industry, One Milking Robot at a Time

Aya Takada for Bloomberg: Jin Kawaguchiya gave up a career in finance to help revive Japan's ailing dairy industry -- one robot at a time. In a country that relies increasingly on imported foods like cheese and butter, Japan's milk output tumbled over two decades, touching a 30-year low in 2014. Costs rose faster than prices as the economy stagnated, eroding profit, and aging farmers quit the business because they couldn't find enough young people willing to take on the hard labor of tending to cows every day. But technology is altering that dynamic. On the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan's top dairy-producing region, Kawaguchiya transformed the 20-cow farm he inherited from his father-in-law 16 years ago into Asia's largest automated milking factory. Robots extract the white fluid from 360 cows three times a day and make sure the animals are fed and healthy. The machines even gather up poop and deposits it in a furnace that generates electricity. Cont'd...

Greenbot: Driverless Tractor

From Greenbot: The Greenbot was introduced at the Agritechnica 2015 trade fair. The Greenbot is the first driverless machine to be developed especially for professionals working in the green sector who have to carry out repetitive tasks on a regular basis, such as working in fruit cultivation, horticulture, agriculture, or the municipal sector. The software that controls the fourwheel steering and hydraulic four-wheel drive system is userfriendly, safe and reliable. The Greenbot can be programmed to function fully independent and can be used to replicate tasks recorded in advance using a tractor with a driver. Programs can also be activated using the remote control, and then the Greenbot repeats the instructions. This mode is called 'Teach & Playback'. The Greenbot is furthermore able to independently plan its own route and operations for specific applications, such as spraying orchards or mowing public green areas... ( site )

Robot Can Pick and Sort Fruit

A robotics breakthrough by product design and development firm Cambridge Consultants is set to boost productivity across the food chain - from the field to the warehouse. It paves the way for robots to take on complex picking and sorting tasks involving irregular organic items - sorting fruit and vegetables, for example, or locating and removing specific weeds among crops in a field. "Traditional robots struggle when it comes to adapting to deal with uncertainty," said Chris Roberts, head of industrial robotics at Cambridge Consultants. "Our innovative blend of existing technologies and novel signal processing techniques has resulted in a radical new system design that is poised to disrupt the industry."

Advances in farming robotics could address shortage in agricultural workers

By Steve Brachmann for IPWatchDog: More and more, the agricultural world is looking towards the mechanization of labor processes through robotics as a way of potentially increasing their productivity. Robotics was identified as a sector of investment growth in agricultural tech by an April 2014 white paper on agriculture technologies published by the entrepreneurship and education non-profit Kauffman Foundation. Robotics is a regular focus of ours here on IPWatchdog, most recently visited in our coverage of the incredible advancements in walking and jumping robotics pioneered by Boston Dynamics, a Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) subsidiary. With American farmers already heavily involved in the regulatory conversation involving the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, we thought that it would be interesting to delve into the world of farming robotics and see the recent advances in that particular field. It's important to understand first that the robotics being developed for commercial use on farms won't be stand-alone humanoid units ranging through fields to pick crops. Any piece of hardware implementing an algorithm which automates some of the manual work of farming falls under this heading. One good example of this is the LettuceBot, a precision thinning technology which works to visually characterize plants in a lettuce row, identify which plants to keep and eliminating unwanted plants to optimize yield. The unit doesn't move by itself but is guided along by a tractor instead. The technology has been developed by Blue River Technology of Sunnyvale, CA, a company which has attracted $13 million in investment between 2011 and 2014 to commercialize this product. The LettuceBot's creators hope toprovide the technology as a third-party service to farm owners before manufacturing the unit for commercial sale. Cont'd...

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