Harvest Automation: Robot Takeover

The Lempert Report
February 26, 2015

Innovative minds are putting their efforts into making California's "Salad Bowl of the World" the tech future of farming!

An hour’s drive south of Silicon Valley lies Salinas Valley, an area where, thanks to an ideal climate and fertile soil, is referred to as the Salad Bowl of the World. But just like it's tech hub neighbor, this agricultural center, is relying more on innovation than ever before. 
Farming fresh produce has is labor-intensive, more so than other crops like corn and wheat  - but with a declining availability of farm labor and a growing demand for healthy fresh produce, producers in the Salinas Valley are leaning on the tech world to help them think outside the box.
The Thrive Accelerator Program is one new program in the area.  With more than a dozen mentors in the industry,  access to real-world conditions and real-world farmers this program is designed to lure startups and cultivate a farming tech cluster.  One of their 10 finalists is the Boston-based Harvest Automation, a 30-person firm that's making robots do the work:
Video Courtesy Harvest Automation Yoube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPIyGyBNwAo#t=14
"We started in the back of my house, back in the day, the genesis of this whole thing was my meeting Joe Jones, our CTO and another one of the co-founders of the company. We decided it was time to start a new robot company that would do something different in the nursery and greenhouse sector. And specific they've been trying to automate and mechanize some of this labor for a long time. These are guys who are usually second or third generation farmers and they know the industry and they know the industry inside and out and we showed them our first product and they went gaga and said, "thats it! You've solved the problem, this is going to be great. The way that we've programmed these robots is using a system called behavior based robotics. and we use behavior based programing because it's very responsive to what's in the world. Timing is everything. We're farmers and so we're at the mercy of everything. When its time to do it, you have to do it. describe our robots as smart, practical and sustainable. These robots are smart because they can sense their own surroundings and navigate autonomously. They can move goods from a to b, and they can gather information while they do that work. They are practical because they can be used within existing environments, sometimes unstructured environments, and sustainable because customers are using our robots to have a practical consistent way to get their work done."
Investors are recognizing the needs of the Salinas Valley and therefore taking note of the innovations that are emerging here. This Salad Bowl of the World is on it's way to becoming the most tech savvy salads out there.