If you want a glimpse into the future, check out the action in a drab warehouse in Billerica, Mass. Thatâ€™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. â€œIt gets pretty gruelingâ€ 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.