In a cornfield in central Illinois, agricultural engineers are preparing robots to do the mundane farming jobs like weeding, looking out for harmful insects, and taking soil samples. Called "ag robots," the idea is to replace bulky farm equipment with swarms of precision helpers that can maintain an entire field autonomously. The one pictured, developed by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign engineer Tony Grift [left] and visiting scholar Yoshi Nagasaka [right], uses lasers to traverse the corn rows, while other, cheaper designs use more haphazard approaches to randomly cover the same ground.
And that's about where they're at for now — just trying to figure out how to get around. Once they figure out how to keep their metal children in the corn, the next step will be to teach them how to take care of the plants themselves, perhaps by precisions-spitting tiny amounts of pesticide at targeted weeds.
After that? An entire test farm maintained by robots. And after that? The first cow tipped entirely by robot.
Read - University of Illinois creates robot farmers [EurekAlert]