We may be moving towards a future where robots are responsible for growing our food if a new factory in Japan is any indication of the direction that technology may take. Spread, a company based in Japan, has already been working on automating food production and is set to open a completely robotic farm in 2017.
Their current indoor farm in Kyoto produces 21,000 heads of lettuce a day using a very small human staff and a large amount of autonomous machinery. The new facility will completely eliminate the need for human involvement, replacing them with industrial robotics.
Indoor farming already has a number of advantages over the traditional model. Farming indoors eliminates the need for pesticides which can run off of fields and pollute local water supplies. In addition the crops grow faster and larger in a controlled indoor environment and it is possible to recycle up to 98% of the water being used. It will also lower costs for labor by half and energy use by a third.
Completely automating the process improves on this efficiency, allowing more food to be grown at a lower cost. The current projections suggest that the factory will be able to harvest 30,000 heads of lettuce a day, though Spread hopes to increase that figure to half a million within five years. The company predicts that the result of will be lower prices for consumers.
The future of robotic food production looks promising. The traditional mode of agriculture is both labor and resource intensive, as well as damaging to the environment. Spread has plans to build new factories around the world, which could signal a move towards a future where food is plentiful and widely available due to automated farming techniques.
So what do you think? Would you eat food grown by a robot? Does the idea concern you? Let us know in the comments.