"Farmers with operations spanning hundreds or thousands of acres could use drones to find and possibly treat a disease before it spreads, or tailor the amount of pesticides, water, fertilizer, and other applications to reduce costs and boost production. Livestock producers could monitor cattle and other livestock," the newspaper adds.
Drones will likely have a future even in the insurance industry as they can more accurately measure insurance claims by surveying an entire agricultural field rather than certain sections, and do so in a way that resolves the claim much faster. It also could save the government millions by avoiding payouts on fraudulent claims, the publication states.
"I think this really is a technology that is going to be a huge game-changer for agriculture," says Christina Bloebaum, a professor of aerospace engineering at Iowa State University.
While drones in recent years have caught the public's fancy, it is robots that are having a revolutionary impact in the workplace. "The idea, once so amazing, of robots working on assembly lines is regarded these days as laughably primitive by those in business," is how the Guardian newspaper summed up the contemporary scene.
"Thanks to vast increases in dexterity and the ability to see in three dimensions, modern robots can cook and serve fast food; pick fruit, carefully distinguishing between the ripe and unripe; keep control of huge inventories and stack shelves accordingly," it added.
The London Review of Books offers another glimpse of the modern worksite. "Take a look online at the latest generation of Kiva robots employed by Amazon. The robots are low, slow, accessorized in a friendly orange. They can lift three thousand pounds at a time and carry an entire stack of shelves in one go."
"Directed wirelessly along preprogrammed paths, they swivel and dance around each other with surprising elegance, then pick up their packages according to the instructions printed on automatically scanned barcodes. They are not alarming, but they are inexorable, and they aren't going away: the labor being done by these robots is work that will never again be done by people," the publication adds.
Robots have become so smart and versatile it is commonplace now for analysts to warn they will soon start displacing tens of thousands of workers. Whereas robots used to be big and clumsy and could do only one thing over and over, "collaborative robots" can be set to do one task one day-such as picking pieces off an assembly line and putting them in a box-and a different task the next.
"Some are mobile and able to range freely inside a factory. The use of advanced sensors means they stop or reposition themselves when a person gets in their way, solving a safety issue that long kept robots out of smaller factories," reports the Wall Street Journal.
Indeed, the day is not far off when machines on the plant floor will actively identify problems, determine a course of action, execute, and measure those results, predicts Seegrid, which manufactures driverless vision guided vehicles for use in warehouses and distribution centers.
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