A new report has indicated that massive changes will be coming to the agricultural markets within the next ten years, perhaps most notably farming, courtesy of various advances in robotics and drones.
The report, by IDTechEx Research, highlights how these technologies will enter into different aspects of agriculture, transforming the methods behind farming and having a significant impact on the workforce in the process.
Probably the largest change coming to farming is the mass-scale automation that looks to be employed across various aspects of the industry.
While current farms are by no means stuck using purely antiquated methods – there are already thousands of robotic milking parlours across the world, for example – there are large sections of the work that are still reliant on human workers.
This is due to both the fact that many robots are not currently smart enough to perform crucial tasks and regulatory measures; as with autonomous technologies in general there is considerable legislation involved in approving their usage.
However, it seems that in the next ten years we can expect to see ever-smarter robots taking over those roles that we previously had set aside for humans.
Notably, these technologies will not only be independently advancing the farming processes, but can contribute to elements of each other’s roles.
In the air, for example, both remote-controlled and autonomous drones will map the farms below them. That’s data that can then be used to better guide the small robots that will be navigating among crops, analysing the plants and removing weeds.
These robots will then learn their routes the more they are deployed to better navigate themselves.
On a broad scale then, we can see that farming is set to radically change in the next few years as more and more of the jobs that have been traditionally limited to human workers are taken over by autonomous robots. It appears that agriculture is set to join the other industries that will rely on workforces transforming into engineers for the robots that are automating their former roles.
In the fields and in the sky, farming will be essentially run by a series of robotic workers capable of working autonomously just as soon as they are set to the job. Arguably, within the next ten years, we will see farmers transition from oversight of their crops and cattle to oversight of a vast fleet of robots and drones handling the daily work.
Visiting these farms, you won’t be looking at groups of workers assigned to do their various, individual duties but sections of robots discreetly trundling among crops, aided by drones overhead with their mapping while, in the background, tractors steer themselves around their duties.
We can predict that the drone will be the focal point, the farmer’s point of view that then sees a robotic workforce set to their various duties then left to run their processes automatically, occasionally put back on course by a fruit picker-turned-engineer.