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Manufacturing Minute: Robotic Farmhands

In this episode, the world's first robot-operated farm.

The rise of automation is dramatically altering a wide range of industries -- including agriculture.

But a Japanese company hopes to take that to a whole new level.

Kyoto-based vegetable company Spread currently produces more than 7 million heads of lettuce annually on its indoor hydroponic farms.

Indoor farming offers a wide array of benefits, from improving water and soil use to preventing weather-related problems and pesticide use.

It also allows for automated control of indoor conditions.

By 2017, however, Spread hopes that robots will also be responsible for seeding and harvesting, effectively creating the world's first entirely robotic farm.

Although other computers can differentiate between the appearances of different objects, Spread's system -- for now -- still needs a human to check whether seeds have sprouted.

But the dramatically reduced labor costs should still translate into savings at supermarkets.


Could robots alleviate some of the environmental and cost concerns of modern agriculture? Or will this be yet another example of automation affecting the job market?

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