Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Agricultural Robots: Progress Report
The Economist has an interesting piece on the development of agricultural robots: machines intelligent enough and adept enough to handle growing and harvesting fruit (mostly), sometimes in greenhouses, sometimes not. (I owe a hat tip to someone, but I had a senior moment.) Machines can take over some functions, replacing (immigrant) labor and saving money. The problem is they represent an added capital cost, so they imply bigger operations, more "industrial" farms. One truth the foodies often don't recognize is that fruits and vegetables already represent the most concentrated, most industrial branch of agriculture. Of course, the promise of cheaper fruits and vegetables is something the food movement can't oppose, is it?