The agricultural robot market, estimated at a paltry $817 million right now, could be a $16 billion industry within six years, according to a report by Reportsnreports.com, an analytical service.
"Agricultural robots are but part of an overall trend to more automated process for every type of human endeavor," according to a release from the company. "Robots are being used more widely than expected in a variety of sectors, and the trend is likely to continue with robotics becoming as ubiquitous as computer technology over the next 15 years.
"The key to...farm robots is keeping costs down. Adapting existing commercial vehicles instead of building new ones is the best way to build viable agricultural robots."
The report lists a wide range of companies and institutions who would likely be players in the market, including Google, Case IH, IBM, iRobot and an assortment of smaller, more specialized companies involved in ag robotic research.
Areas of focus for robotic assistance include labor-intensive jobs like weeding, spot spraying and specialty crop harvesting.
"Agricultural robots address automation of process for agribusiness," the release notes. "The challenge being addressed is to guide farmers towards a new economic model.
"The aim is to meet demands of a global market. Harvesting is one benefit. Crop-yield increases come from weed control. Robot technology is deploying its machines for weed control, promising to improve crop yields. Robots make the crops safer by eliminating or virtually eliminating herbicides."