Waitrose & Partners Teams Up With 'Farmbots' To Boost Efficiency
Waitrose & Partners' parent company The John Lewis Partnership has announced a three-year trial with the Small Robot Company, which will see the company roll out 'farmbots' to its farm in in Leckford, Hampshire.
The three small robots - named Tom, Dick and Harry - will be used to assess ways in which to produce a higher yield, based on topographical data, as well as reduce the proliferation of weeds and help with planting.
'The data gathered by the prototype Tom robot will be used to develop an AI system called Wilma, which will eventually guide the three robots to farm autonomously,' the retailer said in a statement.
A Myriad Of Tasks
'The trial at the Leckford Estate and other farms will be used to create and test prototype versions of Dick, the precision weeding robot, and Harry, the digital planting robot. Dick will use machine vision to differentiate between weeds and crops, thereby enabling it to kill weeds with lasers. Harry will accurately punch-plant seeds individually in the ground at a uniform depth, creating a plant level map showing the exact location of each seed.'
The robots will also deliver increased environmental benefits, the company said, as they are much lighter and more efficient than traditional farming tractors.
"This new technology could be revolutionary for British farming,"Andrew Hoad, partner and head of the Leckford Estate.
"It is not designed to replace human labour but instead boost productivity and increase accuracy, freeing up the agricultural workforce to focus on other important tasks. We want to be at the forefront of this, and ensure we leave our soils and environment in great shape for future generations."
© 2018 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.