Ornamental plants are in demand by landscaping firms, building contractors, and retail businesses, but the industry which supplies them has never benefited from automation.
Now, especially with harsh immigration laws making immigrant labor less available, robots may be about to take over the job of loading and unloading the trucks which carry potted plants
Wired reports that a number of robotics experts have been working on developing a small, mobile robot that can handle garden materials. The Massachusetts startup Harvest Automation is already testing a prototype robot at nurseries around the country and expects to release it commercially next year.
“The Harvest Automation robots are knee-high, wheeled machines,” Wired explains. “Each robot has a gripper for grasping pots, a deck for carrying pots, and an array of sensors to keep track of where it is and what’s around it. Teams of robots zip around nursery fields, single-mindedly spacing and grouping plants. Think Wall-E without the doe eyes and cuddly personality, or the little forest-tending ‘bots in the 1972 sci-fi classic Silent Running.”