Japan almost specializes in reminding us that a sci-fi future is actually happening right now — see: underwear vending machines, cuddle cafes. Up next: robot farms.
While farming robots already exist, an automatized tractor isn’t exactly running the whole show. But Spread, a new “vegetable factory” planned near Kyoto, will be the world’s first farmer-free farm. Instead of humans planting, growing, and harvesting produce, this farm will be staffed entirely by … robots.
“There are several reasons vegetable factories will be needed in the future in order to create a sustainable society,” says Kiyoka Morita from Spread. Like other indoor farms, Spread’s new factory uses far less water than traditional agriculture; the factory’s new technology also allows them to recycle 98 percent of that water. Because the factory is sealed, there’s no need for pesticides or herbicides. The ultra-efficient lighting system can run on renewable energy. Japan imports about 60 percent of its food each year, but the factory can supply it locally.
In addition to the environmental benefits (that’s a helluva lot of saved water), eliminating humans could also mean eliminating contamination from all those hands fingering your produce, which would mean a decreased danger of getting sick from your salad mix.
Sounds great! Unless, of course, you are a farmworker.