Robot Farmers

Robot Farmers

October 23, 2018

The start-up company, Iron Ox, is working to deliver robotically grown vegetables.  They have planted their first robot farm about 25 miles south of San Francisco in a warehouse.  They intend to sell their vegetables to local restaurants later this year, and to supermarkets early next year.

Their first farm is in a warehouse forcing them to use artificial lights, and thus substantial energy.  But future robot farms will be in greenhouses to reduce energy costs.  Their plan is to locate these robot farms close to metropolitan areas.


Video Spotlight: Watch robots grow food without farmers


This post is based on The Daily Times article, Meet the farmers of the future: Robots, by Michael Liedtke, September 28, 2018, and the YouTube video, Watch robots grow food without farmers, by CNBC, October 3, 2018. Image source: Shutterstock / Beros919.

Discussion Questions:

1. What benefits does the use of robotics have for the farm?

Guidance: The biggest advantage is the reduction in labor.  The cost of farm labor is rising, and finding workers is getting more difficult.  Until recently, many of the workers on U.S. farms were not in the U.S. legally. Continue reading

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Fake Meat: Even a Chef Can be Fooled

Fake Meat: Even a Chef Can be Fooled

Making tasty fake meat is both an art and a science, and a new production method is key to mimicking protein in a precise fashion.

From aligning the plant fibers in look-alike muscles to creating satisfying texture and taste, plant-based food production has reached a new level. No longer limited to vegetarians, the market has expanded to include even the most discerning foodies.


Video Spotlights:


This post is based on the Bloomberg article, The secret to making fake meat you want to eat, by M. Ellwood, September 13, 2018; the CNBC article and video, The fight against ‘fake meat’ has officially begun, by J. Urbi, February 23, 2018; and the YouTube video, Jaap Korteweg I am a Vegetarian Butcher TEDxEde 2014 Legendado V2, by talhovegetariano, December 1, 2014. Image source: Tomacco/Getty Images.

 

Discussion Questions:

1. What are the environmental forces that led to the creation of this product?

Guidance: Forces include societal trends (animal rights movement, growing appeal of vegetarianism), technology (new equipment), weak competition in high-quality fake meat market, and expanding consumer markets with potential for new Continue reading

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Every Step You Take, I’ll Be Watching You

Every Step You Take, I’ll Be Watching You

Sidewalk Labs, a unit of Alphabet, has partnered with a government agency to modernize part of the waterfront area in Toronto.

Heated streets, driverless shuttles, pavements with sensors, and robotic waste-sorting systems are part of this “city of the future.” Although the project promises to improve people’s quality of life, concerns about data ownership and privacy protection have yet to be addressed.


Video Spotlight: Introducing Sidewalk Toronto


This post is based on the Chicago Tribune article, Google’s proposed first urban development raises data concerns, by R. Gillies, October 3, 2018; the Digital Journal post, Mixed Reactions to Toronto’s waterfront becoming a “digital city”, by T. Sandle, May 28, 2018; and the YouTube video, Introducing Sidewalk Toronto, by Sidewalk Toronto, October 17, 2017. Image source: Shutterstock / Markus Mainka.

Discussion Questions:

1. What are the potential benefits of this project to the city of Toronto?

Guidance: Discussion topics could include gentrification of a rundown area, prestige and economic potential of being an innovator and a model city for future urban developments, offering residents state-of-the art technology in many aspects of everyday life, and capitalizing financially on innovations derived from this project.

2. In which stage of the Continue reading

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