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Bringing Affordable Robotics To Big Agriculture 196

kkleiner writes "Boston-based Harvest Automation has made good on its mission to bring robots into the world of agriculture by introducing Harvey, a bot tasked with the rather modest job of moving plants around in nurseries and greenhouses because people aren't keen on doing the laborious work. At a price point of $30k each, two bots would cost the same as three unskilled human laborers who earn about $20k annually not to mention medical bills due to injury. Harvey's job may not be flashy, but considering the potted plant industry is valued at $50 billion, the bot's little impact could translate into significant money."
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Bringing Affordable Robotics To Big Agriculture

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @08:24PM (#44752215)

    ...two bots would cost the same as three unskilled human laborers who earn about $20k annually not to mention medical bills due to injury.

    That depends on the "unskilled" labor you're talking about.

    People legally able to work will get $7.25 per hour (minimum wage) only when they are scheduled to work. In other words, they will work when needed and it'll be seasonal. So, said worker will be really lucky to make $7,000 for the year at that job. AND the hours will be sporadic - he won't know what days he's working or even he's going to work that week. And some of these jobs, you show up at 5AM to get in line and wait until 7AM to see if you work that day - ALL UNPAID.

    I know because I had to do it to pay bills. And no, if HURTS your resume if you are a white collar worker. All those employers who say that they want you doing "something - anything" when looking for a "real" job are full of shit. If you work as a laborer, they think that you aren't good enough to work in your profession.

    It's better to be unemployed than "taking anything to work."

    Now illegal workers, that's a whole different ball of wax.

  • Re: Hidden cost (Score:4, Informative)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @12:40AM (#44753539)
    Says who? The GAO says 12.6% [nytimes.com]. But keep spouting that nonsense that any big companies actually pay the sticker price.
  • by plover ( 150551 ) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @12:46AM (#44753569) Homepage Journal

    Wrong. Jobs still go overseas or go away, just that you don't see them leave.

    Look at the plumbing industry. Drilling holes in a wall and sticking copper tubing through them seems like something that has to remain solidly on shore, right? Let's say it's 120 hours of work to plumb an average house. So you show up to work some day and your boss says "we're switching to PEX." Because you don't have elbows or joints, there is no soldering, and because those holes don't have to line up perfectly, plumbing a house with PEX now takes only about 40 hours. Where did the extra labor go? Some went overseas to the PEX factory, but the rest got laid off.

    At the burger place? Where do you think those patties were manufactured? Do you see a McButcher shop in the back of the store? No, the animals were likely raised and slaughtered and packed in rural Brasil, or some other country with cheaper labor and farmland.

    It's a global economy now. Parts and materials come from everywhere. Protectionism means little at the borders when it's only keeping out the $7.25/hour illegal immigrants. The total cost to the US economy of illegal immigrants is less than $30 billion. (Compare that to the Wall Street bailout of $750 billion, or to the Iraq / Afghanistan wars with their costs of over $2 trillion.) The real losses to the U.S. job market have come from increased efficiencies, more automation, and overseas manufacturing and labor, where $trillions of dollars have left our payrolls. But hey, let's get Fox banging the illegal immigrant drum and blame them for taking our jobs, because Mexicans are visible and the TV cop shows prove they're all criminals and drug lords. It takes our easily distracted minds off the facts of where the real losses are coming from.

Happiness is twin floppies.