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Agricultural Robots Are on the Rise, Leading to an $88 Billion Business

May 3, 2019 By Finley Engineering in

Worldwide agricultural robot shipments will reach 727,000 units and be valued at $87.9 billion by 2025, according to an agricultural robot forecast from Tractica.

The category consists of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other robot and automation technology. UAVs will be the most popular robotic tool, followed by driverless tractors, material management robots, soil management robots, and dairy management robots.  It’s a quickly growing sector: Tractica says 60,000 units shipped last year.

“Robots and automation technologies have the potential to dramatically improve crop quality and yields, reduce the amount of chemicals used, solve labor shortages, and provide hope for the economic sustainability of smaller farming operations,” senior analyst Glenn Sanders said in a press release.

Agricultural Robots Forecast

The report, “Agricultural Robots,” identifies drivers of the dramatic growth. They include demand for robotic help in planting, pruning, weeding, pick-and-place, sorting, seeding, spraying, harvesting and materials handling.

The growth of agricultural robots illustrates an important reality of modern technology: The tools now exist to replace what were – and still are in most cases – manual processes. In many cases, robots actually can do these tasks better. They can work in all types of weather, can be directed by sensors to go where they are needed most and in other ways improve upon the job done by humans. And, of course, robots never take sick days, lunch breaks or coffee breaks.

The basic paradigm exists in other industry sectors as well. For instance, robotic process automation (RPA) can more efficiently do many types of rote and repetitive office work than humans.

Questions remain, of course, about the impact of these advances on the work force. Some experts say that it will lead to increased unemployment as jobs now held by humans are shifted to robots. Others, however, say that the trend will free people up for more creative and rewarding endeavors.