Farmers, welcome your new robot workers

Robots are invading farms everywhere, picking crops, pulling weeds, killing pests, overseeing farms from above, and carrying stuff that’s too heavy for their weaker human owners. Harvest Automation, which has been building a robot for greenhouses and nurseries called the HV-100, announced earlier this week that it’s raised a $12 million Series C round from VCs to help make its HV-100 more widely available.

Harvest AutomationThe HV-100 is meant to work in the unstructured outdoor environment of a farm (not a structured assembly line) and the robots are meant to work alongside farmers with little training. The idea is that the robots can do more work, more efficiently, and harder work, at a lower cost.

As more and more robots start working in the ag sector, there’ll be an inevitable a cry about ‘robots are taking our jobs.’ Which is true, but also robots like the HV-100 are meant to take over some of the more extreme repetitive tasks that humans are just not made for (without a lot of negative effects on our bodies).

As robots work more and more closely with humans in offices, farms and factories, they’ll start to need more human-like interfaces to create a better experience. At our Roadmap conference next week, robotics interface designer Leila Takayama will be giving a talk, and we’ll also have a robot — the UBR-1 — at the show from Unbounded Robotics.

Robots could also have a positive effect on boosting food production, while also lowering energy and water use, in order to meet the demands of the rapidly growing population. There is expected to be over 9 billion people on the planet by 2050, which means that resources — water, food, energy — will start to be increasingly constrained.