Robots are driving cars and performing surgeries. The growing fear is that robots will soon replace humans in jobs, but they already have -- in Japan's newest robot farm. Japan has a big problem: its aging population. Of course, it's great that in 2016, human beings are living longer than ever but what happens when a major portion of a country's population becomes too old to work? Enter robots.
Agriculture isn't the most glamorous field to work in, nor is tending to a farm in line with the ideals of an increasingly urban population of young people. But the world still needs food, and who's going to ensure that someone is around to harvest your seasoned farm-to-table brussels sprouts? Robots, of course.
The Japanese company Spread is set to open the first ever robot farm in Kameoka, Kyoto prefecture some time in 2017. The farm's current lettuce production is at about 21,000 heads of lettuce per day but with the help of robots that will water and harvest crops, production will rise to about 50,000 per day. Eventually, Spread wants to produce 500,000 heads of lettuce per day.
But don't worry about robots phasing humans out of jobs just yet. “The seeds will still be planted by humans, but every other step, from the transplanting of young seedlings to larger spaces as they grow to harvesting the lettuces, will be done automatically,” according to JJ Price, global marketing manager at Spread. Spread doesn't want to replace humans, they want humans and robots to work together in tandem. (It's bound to happen anyway -- other firms have also been testing agricultural robots to aid the country's crisis.)
If the farm proves to be successful in Japan, it could lead to more robot farms in the country and even across the world. In a world where global hunger is still rampant, robot farms could make a positive impact.