The robotic, hybrid-electric future of agriculture

May 12, 2020 by  
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The robotic, hybrid-electric future of agriculture Shane Downing Tue, 05/12/2020 – 00:15 While many around the world, ordered indoors amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, are coming up with innovative ways to plant small victory gardens in, around and on top of their homes, plenty of change is afoot in big ag — much of it driven by new technologies. A recent IDTechEx webcast, “Electric Vehicles and Robotics in Agriculture: $50 Billion Market Soon,” provided a brief overview of a 215-page report , “Electric Vehicles and Robotics in Agriculture 2020-2030,” that the research firm published in February. According to IDTEchEx Chairman Peter Harrop, agriculture’s forthcoming shift to both electrification and robotics is a result of three overarching trends: looming labor shortages; the need for precision farming; and advancements in automation. First, Harrop talked about how labor shortages in places such as the United Kingdom and Japan will require robots to be used to keep up with production demands. “The United Kingdom is seriously moving into more labor shortages and more pressure for automation because of leaving the European Union,” he said. “[That makes] it much easier for high-skilled people to move to Britain and almost impossible for low-skilled people to move to Britain.” Harrop compared that to what’s going on in Japan, where the average age of a farmer is about 70 years old. Young people’s “refusal” to live and farm in rural communities is a “serious problem,” Harrop said, but it’s not unique to Japan. Across the world, farmers are aging. Rather than following in their footsteps to the fields, younger generations are instead choosing to flock to cities. Giants of the agricultural [industry], such as John Deere, are saying that electric power gives far better controllability and opportunities for automation and precision seeding and other things like that. To help address the void being created by demographic trends, Harrop highlighted a number of enabling technologies that will help the agriculture industry continue to feed a growing world population, despite a lack of willing or available human workers. Those technology advancements pertain to powertrains, vectored traction, battery systems, supercapacitors, power electronics, solar body work and transportable zero-emission microgrids. However, one technology looms above the rest: electrification. “Giants of the agricultural [industry], such as John Deere, are saying that electric power gives far better controllability and opportunities for automation and precision seeding and other things like that,” Harrop said. “[Those technologies are] not going to be possible without the precision of electric vehicles.” Whereas the IDTechEx report includes and analyzes dozens of cutting-edge technologies, prototypes and farm vehicles, Harrop touched on these companies during the webcast: Small Robot Company : The England-based technology company is developing three farmbots — Tom, Dick and Harry — that autonomously will plant, feed and weed arable crops. More so, they’ll be controlled and directed by Wilma, the artificial intelligent (AI) “brain” behind the operation that’s capable of recording exact locations of each plant. Kubota : The Japanese company unveiled its so-called “dream tractor” in January. Although it isn’t for sale yet, the fully autonomous X Tractor prototype has four tread-covered wheels individually equipped with in-wheel motors, giving the tractor both an acute turning radius and the ability to travel over various terrains, including rice paddies. eWind : Based in Oregon, eWind has developed an airborne wind energy system (AWES) called Tethered Energy Device (TED). According to the company, TED will produce enough energy to power an entire farming operation (or roughly five American homes) on a device small enough to fit in the back of a pickup truck. The technology is still in the testing stages; however, Harrop said that it’s “a company that’s specializing in the needs of farmers.” (Image: Kubota’s “dream tractor” prototype) Harrop says that smaller electric farm vehicles, including pure electric and plug-in hybrid options, will enter mainstream markets before larger vehicles, because smaller pieces of equipment can more easily achieve parity with existing diesel options. In places such as California that have stricter limitations on diesel emissions, however, electric farm vehicles might replace diesel-burning equipment regardless of price points in order to stay compliant with local environmental and health regulations. Whereas many enabling technologies and agtech vehicles that Harrop covered in his webcast will be put into practice within the next decade, he stressed that the industry’s all-electric, fully automated robotic future remains decades away. Although he said that agtech’s leap to automation will be easier than the commercial car industry’s leap to automation, for example, he said it will still be “very expensive.” “But later,” he continued, “it’s going to come down in price. It really is not going to be widely possible to do full automation, full robotics, until about 2030.” Pull Quote Giants of the agricultural [industry], such as John Deere, are saying that electric power gives far better controllability and opportunities for automation and precision seeding and other things like that. Topics Transportation & Mobility Food & Agriculture Electric Vehicles Robotics Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Small Robot Company is developing three farmbots — Tom, Dick and Harry — that will autonomously plant, feed and weed arable crops. Close Authorship

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The robotic, hybrid-electric future of agriculture

19-Year-Old Develops Ocean Cleanup Array That Could Remove 7,250,000 Tons Of Plastic From the World’s Oceans

March 25, 2013 by  
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19-year-old Boyan Slat has unveiled plans to create an Ocean Cleanup Array that could remove 7,2500,000 tons of plastic waste from the world’s oceans. The device consists of an anchored network of floating booms and processing platforms that could be dispatched to garbage patches around the world. Instead of moving through the ocean, the array would span the radius of a garbage patch, acting as a giant funnel. The angle of the booms would force plastic in the direction of the platforms, where it would be separated from plankton, filtered and stored for recycling. Read the rest of 19-Year-Old Develops Ocean Cleanup Array That Could Remove 7,250,000 Tons Of Plastic From the World’s Oceans Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Boyan Slat , garbage patch , Gyres , Ocean Cleanup Array , pacific garbage patch , plastic fibres , plastic foodchain , plastic recycling , TED , The Ocean Cleanup Foundation

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19-Year-Old Develops Ocean Cleanup Array That Could Remove 7,250,000 Tons Of Plastic From the World’s Oceans

Yojiro Oshima’s Beautifully Sculpted Bicycle is Made From 100% Wood

March 25, 2013 by  
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This amazing 100% wooden bicycle was completely hand-crafted by Yojiro Oshima, a design student at the Craft&Industrial Department at Musashino Art University in Tokyo. The wooden bike features a sculptural wooden frame that softens the ride while retaining an optimal level of stiffness. Read the rest of Yojiro Oshima’s Beautifully Sculpted Bicycle is Made From 100% Wood Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bicycle , bicycle concept vehicle , bicycle prototype , bike , eco friendly wood , green design , green transportation , industrial design , Japanese design , student design , student design bicycle , wood bike Yojiro Oshima , wood design , Yojiro Oshima

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Yojiro Oshima’s Beautifully Sculpted Bicycle is Made From 100% Wood

Melbourne Becomes a Certified Carbon-Neutral City

March 25, 2013 by  
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“We’re already one of the world’s most livable cities, our challenge now is to ensure we are one of the world’s most sustainable cities,” says Melbourne’s Environment Portfolio Chair Councillor Arron Wood. Last week, the City of Melbourne announced that it has been certified a carbon-neutral city by Low Carbon Australia using the National Carbon Offset Standard . This certification is part of Melbourne’s long-term target towards net zero emissions by 2020. Read the rest of Melbourne Becomes a Certified Carbon-Neutral City Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 1200 Buildings program , arron wood , carbon offsetting , CH2 , city of melbourne , city of melbourne one of the most sustainable cities in the world , council house 2 , cycle melbourne , environmental upgrade agreements , low carbon australia , meg mcdonald , melbourne low-carbon future , melbourne sustainable city operations , net zero emissions by 2020 , public transportation in melbourne , sustainable transportation in melbourne

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Melbourne Becomes a Certified Carbon-Neutral City

NOAA 2013 Spring Outlook Warns of More Drought, Heat and Flooding

March 25, 2013 by  
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Record-breaking drought conditions ravaged the United States last year, impacting everything from crop production to fish populations . If there were any hopes of a reprieve this year, the NOAA’s US Spring Outlook report brings some unwelcome news. According to the report, drought conditions and above-average temperatures will continue to plague the US and heavy flooding may ravage some areas. Read the rest of NOAA 2013 Spring Outlook Warns of More Drought, Heat and Flooding Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 2013 drought conditions , 2013 drought predictions , climate change in the US , National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , NOAA drought outlook , NOAA Spring Outlook 2013 , NOAA US Spring Outlook , US drought 2013 , US Drought outlook , US flooding outlook , US heat outlook , US heat wave

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NOAA 2013 Spring Outlook Warns of More Drought, Heat and Flooding

South African Environmental Protection Minister Backs Legalization of Rhino Horn Trade

March 25, 2013 by  
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In a controversial move, South African Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa recently supported a proposal to lift the ban on the sale of rhino horns . The trade of rhinoceros horns has been banned for 30 years, but the killing of 668 rhinos last year  for their horns spurred Molewa to suggest an extremist solution. Molewa claims that regulating the removal of rhino horns will help to protect the longevity of the animals and prevent poaching. Read the rest of South African Environmental Protection Minister Backs Legalization of Rhino Horn Trade Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: eco design , Edna Molewa , green design , rhinoceros horn , Rhinoceros horn legalization , rhinoceros poaching , South African Environmental Affairs Minister , sustainable design

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South African Environmental Protection Minister Backs Legalization of Rhino Horn Trade

Artist Ruganzu Tusingwire Transforms Thousands of Plastic Bottles Into a Recycled Amusement Park for Ugandan Kids

June 29, 2012 by  
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Ugandan artist and teacher Ruganzu “Bruno” Tusingwire has created an amazing recycled amusement park for Ugandan children that is made from thousands of repurposed plastic bottles . The amusement park was designed for kids growing up in the slums who have limited access to safe areas for play and education. Tusingwire’s design gives the children a physiological and emotional lift through recreation, and the curious use of materials and inventive structures have sparked new ways for the children to learn from and engage with their environment. The project was just awarded the first  2012 TED Prize  at the TEDxSummit in Doha, Qatar. Read the rest of Artist Ruganzu Tusingwire Transforms Thousands of Plastic Bottles Into a Recycled Amusement Park for Ugandan Kids Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: eco amusement park , green design , humanitarian relief efforts , recycled plastic bottle amusement park , recycled plastic bottle designs , Ruganzu “Bruno” Tusingwire , TED , TED 2012 , TED 2012 Winner , TED art , TED recipients 2012 , TED talks , uganda amusement park

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Artist Ruganzu Tusingwire Transforms Thousands of Plastic Bottles Into a Recycled Amusement Park for Ugandan Kids

The City 2.0: Coveted 2012 TED Award Goes to an Idea Instead of a Person!

March 1, 2012 by  
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This year the TED team upended their own tradition by awarding their 2012 TED prize not to a person, but to an idea! Called  the City 2.0 , the idea is a bit abstract (it is an idea after all), but here’s how it works: a host of leading thinkers contributed to a vision for a future city that respects and incorporates nature into its design, has a small carbon footprint, and drives down disparities in wealth. This plan for the city of the future encourages entrepreneurship and good health, and most importantly is an open-source platform that asks the global community to dream up City 2.0 and make it real. Read the rest of The City 2.0: Coveted 2012 TED Award Goes to an Idea Instead of a Person! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 2012 TED Award , autodesk , design challenge , Design for Health , eco design , environmental sustainability , global city , global design , green design , social design , TED , The City 2.0 , the city of the future , urban planning

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The City 2.0: Coveted 2012 TED Award Goes to an Idea Instead of a Person!

The Green Future is Shareable Cities: Alex Steffen at TED (Video)

August 23, 2011 by  
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The Green Future is Shareable Cities: Alex Steffen at TED (Video)

Emily Pilloton Gives TED Talk on Designing for Social Change!

November 11, 2010 by  
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We’re excited to announce that former Inhabitat editor Emily Pilloton , and superstar founder of humanitarian design organization Project H Design , has just made her TED video debut speaking about her latest project: using design education as a means for social change in a rural Bertie County, NC . In February 2009, Emily and her Project H partner Matthew Miller moved to Bertie County, North Carolina – the poorest and most rural country in the state – with the aim of transforming the Bertie through their experimental “Design. Build

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Emily Pilloton Gives TED Talk on Designing for Social Change!

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