This isn’t the first article I’ve read about the future of farm mechanization using smaller specialized robot systems, but I’m torn about the idea of robots on the farm. I’m encouraged by the smashing of the idea of “go big or go home” (or whatever Earl Lauer Butz said). My personal experience with farming leads me to believe many, many more small farms are the real future of food production and so it seems robotizing our farms will really help with labor. But perhaps figuring out ways to get more humans on our farms doing meaningful work is better than replacing the current crop of farm workers (which we treat like robots).
Giving my career choices I do consider myself a technologist and therefore my first reaction to this idea is “robot === good”. Yet my limited experience with farming leads me to the conclusion that having a human involved with the living plants is not something we can so easily mechanize. Farmers should be in the business of growing living soils and in turn, living plants. We are not building an SUV; we are growing food.
But ultimately I don’t know exactly what to think about this.