The farming, manufacturing, and machining industries are some of the biggest and most important production industries in the world. In the U.S., manufacturers contribute $2.18 trillion to the economy alone. And with new technologies, these industries are better than ever. This is why a UK company is beginning to test robots on farms.
In partnership with the Small Robot Company, the John Lewis Partnership has announced a three-year trial for testing farmbots in Leckford, Hampshire. The farm grows produce like apples, rapeseed, mushrooms, and more for supermarket chain Waitrose and Partners. There will be three small robots, named Tom, Dick, and Harry, working on the farm.
Tom will be the first robot in the fields. This prototype robot is fitted with cameras that will allow it to collect topographical data. Because of its small size, Tom will be able to move independently to gather an extremely accurate view of the field.
Those in the agricultural industry are feeling the stress of increasing farming costs. More and more farmers are choosing to invest in technology — in fact, a Caledonia Solutions survey found that 25% of large farmers were choosing to invest in new farm equipment and agronomic data technology. These types of technology can help improve farming outputs and increase efficiency.
Research has shown that using technology like these robots could potentially increase farming yields and revenue by up to 40% and help reduce expenses by up to 60%.
Andrew Hoad, the head farmer on the Leckford Estate, said, “The months ahead are going to be challenging for everyone. Great innovation sometimes comes out of complex challenges….We are very excited to trial Tom, Dick, and Harry at the Leckford Estate. The Waitrose and Partners farm has a long history in producing a wide variety of high quality crops.”
Along with helping to improve efficiency and precision on the farm, Tom, Dick, and Harry are said to also provide further environmental benefits. With the heavy machinery used in most farming practices, many farms see damage to the soil. But because the robots are so light, they won’t cause as much damage. Not only that, but they’ll be able to provide the care and support to each individual plant, increasing overall plant health.
Small Robot Company is paving the way in the farming industry, after winning the Best Use of Technology Category at The Drum Social Purpose Awards earlier this year. Its technology was noticed for the environmental benefits and the positive social impact the company offers. And with a partnership with a company as big as Waitrose, the company has an opportunity to make a really big impact with its innovative technology.