If you want a glimpse into the future, check out the action in a drab warehouse in Billerica, Mass. That’s where a start-up called Harvest Automation is working out new robots that could wipe out an entire category of agricultural labor.
Harvest sells small, battery-powered robots that move potted trees and shrubs around in a plant nursery. The idea is to create enough space between each of the pots so that the plants have room to grow. “It gets pretty grueling” says inventor Joe Jones.
In fact, right now in the U.S., migrant laborers — some legal, some not — do this sort of work. But recent crackdowns on illegal labor and the expense and hassle of hiring workers through a federal guest worker program have left many nursery owners searching for a solution to their labor problem.
Last year, about this time, I linked to another story on this company.