Robots for Agriculture, Forestry, and Bioenergy
The six-legged robotic logger featured in the above video is just the beginning of the infiltration of robots into logging and farming. Maintaining healthy forests and healthy crops is a lot of work. Physically demanding and often menial, these chores are almost perfectly designed for a robot's strengths.
The successful development of [agricultural] robots could potentially bring a two-fold advantage to modern agricultural techniques. Firstly, the specificity with which robots work – the ability to deliver nutrients directly to the plant on an as-need basis – could greatly reduce the amount of resources and money spent on crop maintenance. Second, the ability to harvest specialty crops could significantly lower the amount of time and back-breaking labor associated with picking fruits and vegetables
“Agriculture contributes a lot of damage to the land, the soil, the water and environment,” Rus explained. “So if we can figure out a way of using robots and automation to deliver nutrients to plants – pesticides, fertilizers, water when it’s needed – instead of sort of mass spreading them, then we hope we would have an impact on the environment.” _RedOrbit
This development is inevitable, particularly with the coming of biofuels from agricultural and forestry waste. Robots can be perfectly equipped to gather, compress, and otherwise densify agricultural and forestry waste biomass. After preliminary on-site densification, waste biomass can be economically transported to local and regional pre-processing and processing plants for conversion into various forms of portable energy such as torrefied biomass, pyrolysis oils, syngas, biomass cubes and pellets, etc. Or the compacted biomass may be co-fired with coal to produce electricity.
Eveything depends upon the economical collection and densification of the waste biomass on-site. Robots -- perhaps solar-powered robots -- are potentially perfect for the task.