Robotic Orange Picker Is Job Threat

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SciGeek
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Robotic Orange Picker Is Job Threat

Vision Robotics is designing an eight-limbed fruit-picking robot that could solve a lot of headaches for citrus growers whose livelihood depends on the availability of immigrant labor, notes Fred Reed. Such a machine requires the ability to visualize the fruit--specifically, oranges--through solid-state cameras, locate it in three dimensions, and pick it in the most efficient manner without damaging the fruit or the tree. The computing power for such a device is attainable through commodity chips, while technological innovation and falling costs are also contributing to the automation of many human tasks, Vision Robotics believes. The migrant workers that represent the bulk of the citrus industry workforce could find themselves unemployed if cheap fruit-picking robots are widely adopted, Reed writes. "Can the economy somehow generate work for those whose jobs are automated?" he asks. "For the reasonably educated, probably. For the utterly unskilled, I don't see how, but maybe."