These days robots are being tasked with everything from making ramen to delivering pizza— and soon, they might also be responsible for growing food. Japan’s ministry of agriculture wants to replace retiring farmers with “autonomous tractors and backpack-carried robots,” Bloomberg reports.
The average age of a farmer in Japan is now 67, and this is particularly a problem given the nation’s dwindling population. With a low birth rate and almost one-third of the population over age 65, many farmers are now on the brink of retirement without children to succeed them.
Japan is dedicating $36 million to developing automated farming robots this year, including “a suit-like device to help farmers harvest and carry fruit and vegetables,” and “[a robot]that separates over-ripe peaches when harvesting.” The country has become increasingly dependent on imported food in recent decades, and the government hopes developing new technologies will boost agricultural production at home and make the profession of farming more attractive to young people. Such robots could also prove useful in the U.S., where the average age of farmers is 57 — and rising.