The Future of Farming: Robots?

Tevel Aerobotics Technologies, an Israeli startup founded by members of its aerospace and electronics industries, has created a robotic fruit-picking system, The Times of Israel reported. It will provide much-needed help for farmers during the harvest. Fruit farmers plant, water, and weed their fields, then hire more workers and coordinate fruit picking and packing in the few weeks when their quality is at its highest. But this strenuous work is increasingly expensive.

To combat these rising costs for farmers and the 10 percent of the world’s fruit crops that rots on trees and is wasted without being picked, this system aims to solve farm labor shortages. It dispatches robots that gently pick fruit from trees while tethered to a platform. Using artificial intelligence and video analysis, the robots only pick ripe fruit while reporting through a phone app how much fruit has been picked and how much time remains to finish the job. These robots are lifesavers to farmers who lack the help they need due to labor shortages in agriculture. They also work longer and more accurately than humans, and they thin and prune trees, which lowers the cost of fruit production by about 30 percent, The Times of Israel said. Still in the testing phase, Tevel plans to globally introduce its new system soon.

I love how Israeli startups find ways to improve areas I don’t even think of. I’ve always respected the massive amount of work that farmers do, and I’ve often wondered how they manage to get it all done either by themselves or with small teams of workers. It looks like the answer is that they have managed to do so with great difficulty. There’s more fruit to be harvested, more efficient methods to pursue, and this solution from Tevel is a great way to maximize crop sales. 

Understandably this technology can be a bit scary, too. The more that artificial intelligence takes over human jobs, the more we worry that our own jobs are at risk. But in this case, these robots are designed only to supplement farmers, not take their jobs or their crew’s jobs. They’ll fill in the gaps in the work that needs to get done rather than dominating the current workers. We certainly hope they will never get to the point of taking jobs from human beings willing to work hard, so their current course of working alongside farmers and their workers is the one we hope they’ll stick to. But I’m sure these robots are an answer to prayer for many farmers who need extra hands to finish the work of harvesting. Congratulations to Tevel Aerobotics Technologies for creating and preparing to release this advanced system.