Report: Agricultural robot market expected to hit $16.3 billion by 2020

Wall-Ye V.I.N. Robot

Sales in the global market for agricultural robots are expected to reach $16.3 billion by 2020 as these robots are being increasingly used in the industry for farming, milking, food production, and animal control, according to a new report by Wintergreen Research.

The 430-page report suggests that the agricultural robot market size in 2013 was $817 million, but is expected to reach $16.3 billion in six years as the global trend toward automation continues to shift. The primary applications of agricultural robots, according to the report, include weed control and site-specific spraying, as well as automated harvesting and picking. In addition, the report covers a number of topics related to the growth of agricultural robots, including:

  • Autonomous navigation in the fields
  • Automated operations (Mowing, pruning, seeding, etc.)
  • UAVs
  • Cooperative robots
  • Autonomous plowing
  • Adaptive robots
  • Computer vision

It isn’t just this report that anticipates robot-related growth in the agricultural industry, suggests Frank Tobe, owner and publisher of The Robot Report and co-founder of Robo-stox LLC.

"The major companies are beginning to get traction for the products they already have—the kits to make tractors drive by themselves, the nav systems to precisely pinpoint every spec of property, [and] the flying sprayers with autopilot software used in Japan but that can’t yet be used legally in America. The list goes on and on," he said.

He added, "Growers want technology to help them but up until recently that technology has been too expensive and convoluted to be helpful. Now, with cheap sensors, vision systems and much better software, robotic mobile devices are coming to market that can prune, spray, sort, seed, thin and weed - all at costs equal to or less than current costs. That’s where things happen quickly - and I foresee that to be the case for the remainder of the decade."

Wintergreen Research’s report mentions a number of robotic companies, including market leaders Kuka, Lely, Yamaha, and Yaskawa/Motoman. In addition, it mentions other companies such as Google, ABB Robotics, Wall-Ye V.I.N. Robot (pictured above), Fanuc, Harvard Robobee, IBM, and iRobot. It also mentions the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, the Japanese National Agricultural and Food Research Organization, NARO (A Japanese incorporated administrative agency), the National Agriculture and Research Organization, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, and the University of California, Davis.

View a press release on the Wintergreen Research report.

Also check out:
Google and the robot revolution

Machine vision: A look into the future
(Slideshow) 10 innovative current and future robotic applications

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