Bear Flag Robotics, a San Francisco based startup announced its plans to build self-driven tractors. Igino Cafiero and Aubrey Donnellan, founders of Bear Flag Robotics observed the increasing need of laborers in agricultural sector. The pair of astute individuals envisioned to utilize new technologies like satellite imagery and computer vision to tackle the issue, and is been working on developing self-driven tractors that can solve the issue of labor needs.
The agro industry is going through serious issue of labor shortage and the use of Autonomous tractors can be a way out.. While talking about their observations regarding labor issue Donnellan said, “We got a tour of an orchard and just how pronounced the labor problem is, “They’re struggling to fill seats on tractors. We talked to other growers in California. We kept hearing the same thing over and over: labor is one of the most significant pain points. It’s really hard to find quality labor. The workforce is aging out. They’re leaving the country and going into other industries.”
Autonomous tractors developed by Bear Flag Robotics will be fully self-driven and well equipped with high sensors. While talking about how the system will work, Cafiero said, “We have this platform that we’ve plugged a ton of sensors into it, That includes cameras too. When you look forward, once we’ve automated the driving part, the sky’s the limit in terms of utilizing some of this technology once it’s out there. When we’re out there we can use these cameras, and be able to make recommendations and spot treatment in the field.”
Agricultural laborers are required to work in hazardous conditions while spraying fertilizes which affects their health. One of the Company officials highlighted the reasons behind shortage of agriculture labors, He explains, “ Laborer’s are in the field all day long, sometimes in inclement conditions. One of the tasks we’re automating is spraying, fungicides, herbicides, and these people out there, they’re wearing hazmat suits. It’s not good for their health to be doing these tasks in general. When you’re presented in higher paying jobs in other fields, there’s less of a case to go into that job, and there’s demand in a lot of other industries like construction [and other industries] where it’s easier work and better pay.” The use of self-driven tractor will help the laborers to work securely and efficiently. Thus, the futuristic technology advancement is gaining attention of robotic experts for all the right reasons.