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The global agricultural robot market has been forecast to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.47% through to 2016, driven by is the increased interest in robotics shown by governments, and the development of specific-purpose robots.
The need among farmers to increase productivity is one of the major drivers of the market, and its impact on the market is expected to continue till 2020. Unlike humans, robots can work for a long period of time and maintain consistency and accuracy throughout. They can perform the work more quickly than a human, thus enhancing productivity.
An agricultural robot or agribot is a robot deployed for agricultural purposes. Agriculture might be the last place you would think to look for robots. To be more specific, high value crops such as greenhouse vegetables, fruits in orchards and grapes for premium wines. But it does make sense. Anything that technology can do to foster the sustainable development of agriculture benefits the world.
The global agricultural robot market is witnessing increased investments owing to the development of new, enhanced, and technologically advanced robots. Several major vendors and startup companies are increasingly investing in developing robots for agricultural purposes in order to gain the first-mover advantage.
For field crops, like corn and wheat, there are relatively few challenges. A single farmer can already harvest a wide area quickly by riding over it in a combine, using GPS to steer -- and companies are exploring ways to automate the process further.
Farm equipment maker Kinze Manufacturing Inc. and Jaybridge Robotics are developing technology that allows tractors to operate without a farmer behind the wheel.
For other crops -- particularly fruits -- it's messier. More human labor is usually needed for harvesting. Workers often must pick fruit by hand, being gentle to avoid bruising it. But a growing number of companies and researchers are developing robotics to address those challenges as well.
Robotic Harvesting LLC is testing a product for strawberry fields. Its prototype rolls through the fields with a camera that identifies berries and a robotic arm that picks them. The arm's foam-padded claw, which can pick a strawberry every five seconds, places them on a conveyor to be carried to the top of the vehicle and placed in boxes.
A commercial version of the prototype would have multiple robotic arms, sell for a "couple hundred thousand" dollars and save as much as $1 million in labour costs over five years
Key players in the global agricultural robot market include Honda Motor Co. Ltd., iRobot Corp., GeckoSystems Intl. Corp. and AB Electrolux.
For more information on the agricultural robot market, see the latest research: Agricultural Robot Market
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