Twenty-fold increase in agricultural robot market forecast by 2020

Robotic weeder - image:HW
Robotic weeder - image:HW

The global agricultural robot market was $817 million (£500m) in 2013 but is expected to reach $16.3 billion (£10bn) by 2020, according to a new report from Dublin-based Research & Markets.

Examples given of areas in which robotic technology will impact include weed control, targeted spraying, ripeness detection and fruit picking, though the figures also include applications such as automated milking.

"Robots meet stringent hygiene and safety regulations, work tirelessly 24 hours a day, relieve human workers of physically arduous tasks, and contribute to the freshness, variety and quality of food," the report points out.

It lists the international market leaders as Germany's KUKA Robotics, Spain's Lely and Yamaha and Yaskawa of Japan.

The report's principal author Susan Eustis said: "The key to industrial farm robots is keeping costs down. Adapting existing commercial vehicles instead of building new ones is the best way to build viable agricultural robots."

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