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Robots Tested to Trim and Guard Cannabis Crops



Cannabis CropsA recent study from researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University recently analyzed the effects of the increased reliance on robots or machines that have replaced jobs between 1990 and 2007.  Not surprisingly, the tech-savvy cannabis industry might soon be following the same trend. “Trimmigrants” could soon be replaced with robots that are programmed to trim cannabis stalks and cannabis farm security could be replaced with robots that monitor cannabis crops.

Canndescent‘s Desert Springs cultivation facility is testing out the use of robots that are programmed to patrol the site’s outdoor crop, which is often a target for thieves. The robots are composed of an automated Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) which is built by Sharp Intellos and resembles a moon rover that secures the perimeter of the facility. Todd Kleperis, Chief Executive Officer of Hardcar Security, a cannabis security company, says robots would be more cost-efficient. “At night guards sleep, they play video games and spend time on social media. It’s fraught with human error,” Kleperis told Forbes. Using robots to patrol is also safer than sending human security. Canndescent officials say they’ve received approval to use the robots from the city of Desert Springs.

Boston-based robotics developer Bloom Automation is designing a robot that “sees” cannabis stalks and can discern between leaves and buds using cameras with detailed vision. The company’s prototype unit is capable of trimming an eight to 18-inch branch in a little as four minutes. Developers at Bloom Automation are planning a commercial launch in late 2017. The prototype unit costs nearly $20,000, cheaper and more effective models could be developed in the future. “Robots perform dull, dirty or dangerous jobs,” the company states on its website.

Hydroponic garden prototype devices such as the Bloombot V1.0 are also currently in development. The Bloombot was entered into the Robotics Innovations Competition and Conference (RICC) at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. When water and light levels are off, sensors are triggered, and the system sends the user a Tweet.

Decades ago, robots redefined the automobile industry, and that meant less jobs. Now, multiple medical cannabis delivery companies are looking into drone delivery, and robotic trimmers are being considered as part of the cannabis industry’s future. Although the reality of having an automated fleet of robotic trimmers is still a ways off, technology such as this could allow the cannabis industry to increase the speed and effectiveness of harvesting cannabis in its various stages.

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