We all enjoyed a quiet, slightly ironic laugh at Doug’s reminder of robot insurance, but there may come a day soon when we’ll need it. Scientists at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab have been hard at work creating robot gardeners. You know the old expression, “the robot rebellion starts with the carrots.”
Thankfully the MIT scientists are starting with tomatoes, so we have a little time yet to get our affairs in order before the robot rebellion begins.
Each robot is outfitted with a robotic arm and a watering pump, while the plants themselves are equipped with local soil sensing, networking and computation. This affords them the ability to communicate: plants can request water or nutrients and keep track of their conditions, including fruit produced; robots are able to minister to their charges, locate and pick a specific tomato, and even pollinate the plants.
The MIT story, entitled Precision Agriculture: Sustainable Farming in the Age of Robotics, claims that these advances will result in less consumption of resources — water, fertilizer, etc — since the plants are communicating exactly what they need. It goes on to suggest that robots are better suited at the kind of backbreaking labor that is so common with much of farming and agriculture. Oh sure! Just give the robots an excuse to hate us even more!
Just look at the maniacal mechanical menace dripping from these robot gardeners!