Not Just Monitor, Drones May Even Pluck Fruits

From inputs on seeds, fertilizers, water, and pesticides, drones help collect and collate data on pests, crop scouting, and to produce better quality and quantity of crops.
Drones, or Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), help farmers optimize information
Outlook Web Bureau Feb 28, 2021

Drones, or Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), help farmers optimize information. From inputs on seeds, fertilizers, water, and pesticides, drones help collect and collate data on pests, crop scouting, and to produce better quality and quantity of crops.

Now reports indicate that a new drone, developed by an Israeli company, may soon choose the ripe and right fruits - and even pluck them. And that has raised certain concerns.

In India, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have been granting conditional exemption for use of drones to various research institutes, organisations and recently, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.

The Agriculture Ministry can use it for remote sensing data collection in agricultural areas of 100 districts of the country. This data can be used for Gram Panchayat level yield estimation, under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), said a statement from the Civil Aviation Ministry.

Drone operators have to obtain Unique Identification Number (UIN), Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) and other operational requirements as per DGCA guidelines.

In some countries, farmers use drones to keep monitor herds and keep the animals safe. The vehicle has multiple usage in larger farms.

Drones collect raw data and translate it with algorithms into useful information.

Job Loss Debate

But the latest development of a technological change in the fruit harvesting industry may lead to a job loss in many countries.

Tevel Aerobotics Technologies of Israel has developed a flying autonomous robot (FAR) that works day and night to pick fruit, reported zerohedge.com. Artificial intelligence embedded within the FAR determines the ripest fruit to pick through sensors and computer vision.

The innovation is said to be result of a global shortage of seasonal fruit pickers, due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. As it is getting harder to find fruit pickers to harvest the world’s orchards, some farmers are turning to Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The FAR robot, added an inceptivemind.com report, can work 24 hours a day and picks only ripe fruit. “It uses AI perception algorithms to locate the trees and vision algorithms to detect the fruit among the foliage and classify its size and ripeness. After choosing the right fruit, the robot then works out the best way to approach the fruit and remain stable as its picking arm grasps the fruit,” according to the report.

FAR robots can harvest the orchards without getting in each other’s ways. A single autonomous digital brain positioned in the ground unit ensures they do not collide.

This development has re-ignited the debate over such robots and AI replacing human and increasing unemployment.


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