With an growing world population, we will have to change the ways we produce food in order to feed everyone. The employment of robotics for food production and agriculture is one approach the problem. Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology developed a robot that mimics a two handed animal, the sloth. What inspired them was not the laziness sloths are usually known for, but the way they swing from branch to branch. The task of this robot is to help farmers to control their crops more efficiently.
Named after the fictional character Tarzan, the robots living environment is not the jungle and its trees but fields, where he is mounted on a wire in the air stretching over the planted area.Tarzan takes pictures of the growing plants to constantly monitor their status and needs. Those snaps are immediately sent to the farmer to be analyzed. By swinging over the fields, the robot automates the way plants are grown and checked by the farmer itself or by an algorithm. This process saves the time a farmer would spend checking the crops manually by walking through the fields.
The first mission for Tarzan will be in Athens, Georgia, where he will take care of a field full of growing soybeans, replacing the human labour on the field under the hot summer sun. Scientists hope to improve Tarzan's efficiency by making it run on sun. Few years back drones used to be the new thing in agriculture, now they are already quite common. Soon we might not just see drones flying around, but also robotic sloth swinging around our landscape.