Sign up FAST! Login

The world's first robot-run farm will harvest 30,000 heads of lettuce daily for Spread in Japan.

Stashed in: Robots!, Japan, Awesome, Turing, 3D Printers, AI, Internet of Things, Robot Jobs, Artificial Intelligence

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

The Japanese lettuce production company Spread believes the farmers of the future will be robots.

So much so that Spread is creating the world's first farm manned entirely by robots. Instead of relying on human farmers, the indoor Vegetable Factory will employ robots that can harvest 30,000 heads of lettuce every day.

Don't expect a bunch of humanoid robots to roam the halls, however; the robots look more like conveyor belts with arms. They'll plant seeds, water plants, and trim lettuce heads after harvest in the Kyoto, Japan farm. 

"The use of machines and technology has been improving agriculture in this way throughout human history," J.J. Price, a spokesperson at Spread, tells Tech Insider. "With the introduction of plant factories and their controlled environment, we are now able to provide the ideal environment for the crops."

The Vegetable Factory follows the growing agricultural trend of vertical farming, where farmers grow crops indoors without natural sunlight. Instead, they rely on LED light and grow crops on racks that stack on top of each other.

In addition to increasing production and reducing waste, indoor vertical farming also eliminates runoff from pesticides and herbicides — chemicals used in traditional outdoor farming that can be harmful to the environment.

The new farm, set to open in 2017, will be an upgrade to Spread's existing indoor farm, the Kameoka Plant. That farm currently produces about 21,000 heads of lettuce per day with help from a small staff of humans. Spread's new automation technology will not only produce more lettuce, it will also reduce labor costs by 50%, cut energy use by 30%, and recycle 98% of water needed to grow the crops.

The resulting increase in revenue and resources could cut costs for consumers, Price says.


Spread is also developing sensors to provide data about how specific type of crops grow. These sensors would alert human workers if a crop is not growing correctly, allowing them to adjust techniques as necessary.

Farm robots will certainly eliminate some human jobs, but they could also create new and more interesting jobs for people. Spread's human farmers, for example, will be able to concentrate on developing sustainable farming methods and learning how to produce higher quality vegetables.

Top Reddit comment:

People wonder how we could possibly have a future where we can support and sustain ourselves without the need for everyone to be in permanent full-time jobs - I think things like this will be part of that world.

When you consider robotics (especially with the help of 3D printing) will be on the same trend of doubling in power and halving in price computing has been on for so long & that renewable energy is heading towards free, then food production too will eventually keep falling and falling in costs. We already live in a world in developed countries where we make too much food - there only so many calories you can eat in a day.

I've huge doubts our polarized political forces will ever agree to the likes of Basic Income for years; the more change speeds up the more entrenched in old positions I can see them getting instead.

Meanwhile, inexorably, year after year technology is delivering us a zero marginal cost economy - that we can build, decentralized from the ground up, without the need for any politicians or governments.

IMHO, I'm guessing this is what it will look like -- Open Source AI, 3D printed Robots, and almost free renewable energy -- all springing up decentralized at the local level; and taking care of our basic needs.

You May Also Like: