The world population is projected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050 according to United Nations. As the world population continues to grow, the need fortechnology and innovation has increased,to sustainably improve agricultural production.Meanwhile the past decade hasalso seen a spurt in the average daily wage of agricultural workers around the globe on account of various factors. This increase is because of the huge demand-supply gap on various labor fronts, and has affected the agricultural sector, which does not have space to adjust cost, especially the wage cost, to match the demand in the labor market.
The agriculture industry is currently undergoing a rapid transformation as continuous technological innovation is on the rise to tackle these issues. The advancements in new-age technologies such as AI, machine learning, IoT, drones and more have already revolutionized the farming process and are being leveraged to boost overall crop production. Now, robotics is making its presence into this complex sector, working on improving the future of agriculture.
What Can Robots Do in Agriculture?
Agricultural robots can assist farmers in tasks that are slow, repetitive, and risky. Automating these tasks can help the farmers on focusing more on improving the overall yield.
- Nursery Planting
- Crop Monitoring and Analysis
- Crop Weeding and Spraying
- Crop Harvesting and Picking
The above mentioned are some of the common tasks done by agricultural robots.
Robots for Harvesting
Coconut picking is a tough, arduous work. The farmers in popular coconut cultivating countries are facing severeshortage of skilled workers for harvesting.In recentyears, the number of coconut tree climbers has declinedsharply, as those men who dothis rigorous job of climbing 30 to 80 feet high above the ground, bare-handed or with the aid of a rope, have broken away from their traditional role to take-up better paid jobs. Since the Green Revolution of the late 1960s, the harvesting of coconuts today has little changed from how it used to be done for generations. The job of coconut picking, whichis perceived as risky and unglamorous, does not attract youngsters either, even though the remuneration is fairly good in local standards.
Though there exist few tree climbing machines today, by any measure, climbing for coconuts is hard work. Not only does a climber have to scale the tree and reach out among the fronds and cut the coconut, but they also have to instinctively learn which nuts are ripe enough to be harvested. Besides, those few climbers who still remain in the business of coconut picking, claims higher wages.
There are several industries, which depend on raw coconuts, for its processing and manufacturing of various value-added products. The inflorescence sap of coconut palms used to produce Neera (sweet toddy or palm nectar), desiccated coconut and its powder, packed coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut milk powder, tender coconut water, vinegar, nata-de-coco, etc. are few of them. The growing market for all coconut products is waking up even in the American and European countries that have never used coconut in their cuisine. Hence, any impact in coconut cultivation sector will adversely affect these industries and their markets
NURBS Labs is in the early developmental stage ofdesigning a harvesting robot.This technology is aimed at addressing labor shortage and improve productivity in the coconut farming sector in South-East Asia. Compared to other existing harvesting solutions, this robot is designed to minimize risk and improve efficiency, replaces human labor, shorten harvesting time, lightweight and portable. The research work has been published in various journals including Elsevier and Indian journal of Science and Technology.
Modern technologies in agriculture will empower farmers to focus more on the entrepreneurial aspects rather than manual labor. Robotics and AI are up for the challenge as farms learn to function like lean factories. We are very excited to be part of the change and pave the way for a more sustainable future.
ARCH-1 Technical Paper in Indian Journal of Science & Technology can be found where: https://indjst.org/articles/design-of-harvesting-mechanism-for-advanced-remote-controlled-coconut-harvesting-robot-arch-1