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Communications of the ACM


Farm Automation Gets Smarter

BoniRob robotic platform

The BoniRob is a multipurpose robotic platform for agricultural applications featuring independently steerable drive wheels and adjustable track width.

Credit: Bosch Deepfield Robotics

Field farming is "the world's oldest profession," and not just because food plants have been cultivated for over 10,000 years. Its individual practitioners are old as well, the median age rising rapidly as young people abandon the farming lifestyle (the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports a median age of 58 in 2012, up from 55 in 2002, with other countries showing similar data). Those who remain face the same repetitive work of seeding, weeding, feeding, and harvesting, the tedium of each task increasing as farms grow ever larger.

However, today's agricultural robots excel at repetitive tasks, letting farmers tend to more strategic matters.


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