It is the stuff of Sci-Fi films, but it is happening—and soon. Next year a Japanese company is opening the first farm run almost entirely by robots.
Spread, a sustainable vegetable producer, plans to allocate almost all of the labour involved in growing thousands of heads of lettuce at its new facility in Kyoto to robots. The only task that will still be performed by humans is planting the seeds.
There have been concerns in Japan that an aging population will soon result in a potentially devastating labour shortage. The government and tech industries are pushing the development of robotics to take over from humans.
It is an interesting inversion of the typical conversation that surrounds robots and jobs: that robotic automation is stealing jobs from humans, or that robots can’t do the things that humans do (as was announced at Mercedes Benz last week in their swapping of robots for people on their assembly lines.)
Spread's robot farm will be watched closely outside Japan given the growing consensus that our current food production paradigm is unsustainable. The U.N. estimates that by 2050 we'll need to sustainably produce 70 percent more food by calories than we do today to keep up with global population growth.
The majority of Spread's robots will be articulated arms that work around a conveyer belt system, which will run throughout the 4,400 square metre farm. The installation will look more like a logistics fulfilment centre than a farm, with floor-to-ceiling shelves growing pesticide-free lettuce.
The robotic arms will transfer and replant seedlings and perform all harvesting. The smart farm will automatically optimise temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels, as well as recycle 98% of water and control lighting for optimal growth.
Other Japanese technology firms like Panasonic, Toshiba, and Sharp are also experimenting with robotic farming solutions, including automated pickers for easily-bruised fruits and vegetables.
But it isn’t only Japan that is a big fan of robotic solutions. BTA has its own robot, Bertie the Robot, who isn’t a farmer, but rather a very savvy engineer. He helps BTA’s IT specialists with IT tasks day and night, 365 days a year. Bertie allows BTA to do more, for more clients, than would ever be possible with human-only resource.
Bertie can work on thousands of machines simultaneously, no matter where they are. He even knows what time zone a machine is in, so he can be sure not to interrupt work. And because Bertie is based on BTA’s proprietary IP, there isn’t a robot quite like Bertie anywhere else.
We can’t vouch for what robotically farmed lettuce is going to taste like, but we can promise cutting edge IT thanks to Bertie and our exceptional team of human engineers.
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BTA is one of the most established IT support companies in London and the South East. Headquartered in Wandsworth Town, in SE London, the company has over 20 years of experience providing IT solutions and ongoing support to companies looking to gain a competitive edge through a first-rate IT provider. Learn more by calling BTA today on 020 8875 7676.