Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Robot Apple Pickers of the Future

This apple-picking robot is from Abundant Robotics in California, and it uses a vacuum system to suck the fruit straight off the trees.

I am all for this.  Why?  Simple:  I want more fruits and vegetable grown in the U.S., fewer non-immigrant workers, and less illegal labor.

In short, I want good food and no slavery; call me a radical if you must.

Fruit and nut farms employ 41 percent of the nation’s agricultural work force, and one-sixth of this work force are migrants, many of them illegal immigrants or workers on H-2 visas.

To put it another way, fruit and tree nut farms employ about 200,000 people, with about 40,000 of these working in apple orchards, many of them in Virginia, New York, Oregon, and Washington state.

Put in robotic apple pickers and we may get cheaper apples and more jobs that pay the kind of wages that American workers deserve.

Go ahead and plant heirloom apples in your yard, and raise tomatoes and sweet corn too.  When push come to shove, however, the farms of the future will be bigger and more automated, and they will have to produce food not for a nation of of 180 million (when I was born) or 324 million (today), but for 500 million people or more.  Achieving that miracle will depend on CRISPR and GMO technology, drones, and artificial intelligence linked to targeted applications of fertilizer, water, insecticide, and fungicide.

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