Automation: Farm Robot Picks Peppers
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Is it really true that farmworkers are in short supply? America’s southern border has been wide open for decades, but we are still told that there aren’t enough pickers — perhaps at the wage that farmers want to pay.

Automation can solve the problem here, if one exists. Machines are coming into the marketplace that can do all the farming tasks that will very soon make foreign or domestic farmworkers completely unnecessary, as documented here.

In fact, it’s wrong-headed to continue mass immigration based on the idea that America’s need for inexpensive labor will continue. When machines become cheaper, they will replace human employees, from agricultural pickers to financial analysts.

Below, a Russian approach to agriculture:

Technology will soon put an end to much unpleasant physical labor — and the paychecks that accompany it. Just how that effect of advanced machines will be handled in society has gotten little attention from our political leaders.

Below is a video of a new farm robot being tested — warning, the musical audio is a little cloying.

This robot picks a pepper in 24 seconds using a tiny saw, and could help combat a shortage of farm labor, CNBC, December 20, 2018

Farming worker shortages are getting worse. In a survey by the California Farm Bureau Federation last year, 55 percent of the 762 farmers surveyed said they had experienced employee shortages. That’s why researchers are now trying to tackle this problem with robots.

Researchers from Europe and Israel have built a robot that can pick ripe peppers in a greenhouse. The prototype, called Sweeper, is backed by the European Union as part of its Horizon 2020 innovation program.

To do its job, Sweeper uses a camera that can recognize the color of a pepper. Computer vision then helps the robot decide if the fruit is ripe for picking. If it is, Sweeper uses a small razor to cut the stem before catching the fruit in its “claws” and dropping it into a collection basket below.

To pick a single pepper takes about 24 seconds, though the researchers say they purposefully slowed down the robot’s movements for safety reasons. Sweeper is also equipped with LED lights so that it can work regardless of the time of day, for about 20 hours/day. Still, the robot is far from perfect, with only 61 percent accuracy in picking ripe fruit. (Continues)

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