It is true that machines make our lives easier. Machines don’t demand an increase in pay, nor do they ask for leaves or fall sick and don’t show up for work. They don’t get tired and not put in their 100% or even take a break on weekends. The beauty of machines is that they work 24 hours a day, 365 days a week, non-stop. So it is easy to see why corporations are racing to automate any part of their operation that can be automated. Agriculture is no different.
Iron Ox, a robotics company has successfully created an autonomous farm in San Carlos, California. Furthermore, it is an indoor hydroponic farm that is completely operated by robots, under human supervision, of course. The company is currently focused on green leafy produce. Founders of Iron Ox Brandon Alexander and Jon Binney launched their company with a vision to enable people all over the country to eat farm fresh greens. They reckon that something grown in the United States East coast has to travel some 2000 miles to the West coast before it makes its way to people’s plates. This journey takes about a week from harvest to supermarkets, and so, according to the founders of Iron Ox, the produce is anything but fresh.
Their operation is handled by a 1000 pound robot that picks up the trays of the hydroponic plants and moves them around while a robotic arm handles finer tasks like seeding and harvesting. Moreover, the robots use AI to deduce the optimum time for harvesting and also prevent pests and diseases. It can automatically detect and remove infected plants.
The company plans to launch more autonomous indoor farms in urban centers.