Vision Robotics, a San Diego company, is working on a pair of robots that would trundle through orchards plucking oranges, apples or other fruit from the trees. In a few years, troops of these machines could perform the tedious and labor-intensive task of fruit picking that currently employs thousands of migrant workers each season.
The robotic work has been funded entirely by agricultural associations, and pushed forward by the uncertainty surrounding the migrant labor force. Farmers are "very, very nervous about the availability and cost of labor in the near future," says Vision Robotics CEO Derek Morikawa.
Of course, that's who should be funding cheaper picking—the growers, who profit from it. For years, they've been pushing the costs of cheap labor on the taxpayers.
Eventually, of course, the robots will be made in China, and American-built robots will complain if they're imported illegally.
But the real point is that robots don't join gangs, take over local governments, riot in schools, or commit gang rape. Previous robo-blogging here, and here, and see also the serious columns from Sailer and Sam Francis.