Agricultural robots are also known as ‘digital farmhands.’ These machines that can quickly pick fruits and vegetables; they are one of the few ways to exploit increasingly small windows of opportunity between weather events. But it takes many people to keep this complex machinery running.
Professor Salah Sukkarieh, a robotics engineer at the University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics, says agricultural robots won’t be replacing farm laborer’s jobs any time soon, but they will become a necessary tool to harvest as much as possible, as quickly as possible.
Earlier this year, Sukkarieh addressed the United Nations Global Conference on Sustainable Plant Production on the ability of agricultural robots and AI to boost productivity and yields and improve food security.
But he is also convinced that robots will influence the human economic ecosystem around them. For instance, farmers are already jacks of all trades, but adding robotics to their CVs might be too much to expect. This means regional towns and cities will need to adapt.
The question is whether local businesses will be able to fix, adapt and maintain these machines, or will they be bypassed, with the faulty digital farmhands being sent overseas for servicing?
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