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机器人农场旨在为美国城市带来新鲜食品 时间:2018-10-10 10:54:00

Brandon Alexander is a former Google engineer who is trying to change American agriculture through robotics.

Alexander operates a machine-powered farm. He recently introduced his star robot – named Angus – to the Associated Press.

The long, white robot weighs more than 450 kilograms. Like other robots, it is equipped with cameras and mechanical arms to automatically perform many different jobs.

Angus is a major part of operations at Alexander's indoor robot farm about 40 kilometers south of San Francisco. The 743-square meter farm uses a hydroponic system that grows plants without soil. The plants grow inside equipment that provides a continuous flow of water. The indoor farm uses electrical light instead of sunlight.


In this Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, photo the mover robot called Angus transports plants being grown at Iron Ox, a robotic indoor farm, in San Carlos, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

This kind of farm uses much less water and does not require human labor to run. The main job for Angus is to move thousands of plants around the farm, from small containers to larger ones as they grow. Angus also carries plants to another robot that does not have a name yet. Angus moves slowly to complete its work. But the robot is very strong and can lift about 300 kilograms.

For now, the farm uses humans to collect vegetables and other crops when they are ready. But Alexander says he is working on a robot that will eventually take over that job too.

Alexander helped start the company Iron Ox after leaving Google, where he worked on robotics at the company's Google X project. He teamed up with another former Google employee, Jon Binney. Together they founded Iron Ox.

Before launching the company, the two men thought about how they could use their engineering knowledge and skills to do something more meaningful. "If we can feed people using robots, what could be more impactful than that?" Alexander said.

Iron Ox's website says the hydroponic growing system uses 90 percent less water. It also said the growing method is up to 30 times more productive than growing crops on land.


In this Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, photo Iron Ox CEO Brandon Alexander gives a tour at his robotic indoor farm in San Carlos, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Alexander said growing food robotically throughout the year in major cities will provide a more consistent and fresh product. Most of the vegetables sold in the U.S. are grown in California, Arizona, Mexico and other nations. That means that many people in U.S. cities are eating vegetables that are nearly a week old by the time they arrive in stores.

Iron Ox is currently negotiating with several San Francisco area restaurants that have expressed interest in buying vegetables, Alexander said. The company also expects to begin selling its products to local stores next year. "And they are going to make the best salads you ever tasted," he said.

Indoor farms operate all year and are not generally affected by bad weather. Iron Ox said this will permit the company to provide a steady flow of goods without major price changes.

During the next few years, Iron Ox said it plans to open robot farms in other areas near U.S. cities. The plans call for the farms to be built inside greenhouses instead of large indoor spaces. These designs will use mostly natural sunlight to greatly cut electricity costs and save energy.

Some environmental experts say robotic farming is also likely to grow because of population. The number of people living on earth is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050. The world's population is currently about 7.5 billion. A report by the World Resources Institute says such growth will make it important to find ways to feed more people without further harming the environment.

Brandon Alexander是前谷歌工程师,他正试图通过机器人技术改变美国农业。


亚力山大经营一个由机器供电的农场。他最近将他的明星机器人(安古斯)介绍给美联社。


这台白色长机器人的重量超过450公斤。像其他机器人一样,它配备有照相机和机械手臂来自动执行许多不同的工作。


安古斯是亚力山大在三藩南部约40公里的室内机器人农场运作的主要部分。743平方米的农场使用一种水培系统来种植没有土壤的植物。植物生长在提供连续水流的设备内。室内农场用电光代替阳光。


本周四,2018年9月27日,在加利福尼亚州的圣卡洛斯,一个名为安格斯的移动机器人正在运送种植在铁牛(Iron Ox)上的植物。

本周四,2018年9月27日,在加利福尼亚州的圣卡洛斯,一个名为安格斯的移动机器人正在运送种植在铁牛(Iron Ox)上的植物。

这种农场用水少,不需要人力劳作。安古斯的主要工作是在农场周围种植成千上万的植物,从小型容器到大型容器。安古斯还把植物运送到另一个没有名字的机器人上。安古斯慢慢地移动完成它的工作。但是机器人非常坚固,能举起大约300公斤。


现在,农场使用人类收集蔬菜和其他作物,当他们准备好了。但亚力山大说,他正在研发一种机器人,最终也将取代这项工作。


在离开谷歌之后,亚力山大帮助公司创办了“铁牛”公司,在那里他在公司的谷歌X项目上从事机器人学工作。他与另一位前谷歌员工Jon Binney合作。他们共同创立了Iron Ox.


在创办这家公司之前,两人考虑过如何运用他们的工程知识和技能去做更有意义的事情。如果我们能用机器人喂人,还有什么比这更有效呢?”亚力山大说。


Iron Ox的网站说水培生长系统使用的水少了90%。它还说种植方法比陆地上种植作物的产量高30倍。


本周四,2018年9月27日,照片中铁牛公司首席执行官布兰登·亚历山大在加利福尼亚州圣卡洛斯的机器人室内农场进行巡回演出。

本周四,2018年9月27日,照片中铁牛公司首席执行官布兰登·亚历山大在加利福尼亚州圣卡洛斯的机器人室内农场进行巡回演出。

亚力山大说,在大城市里全年种植机器人将提供更加一致和新鲜的产品。在美国出售的蔬菜大多生长在加利福尼亚、亚利桑那州、墨西哥和其他国家。这意味着许多美国城市的人在进食商店的时候已经吃了将近一周的蔬菜。


亚力山大说,Iron Ox目前正在与三藩地区的几家餐馆进行谈判,这些餐馆对购买蔬菜表示兴趣。该公司还预计明年开始向当地商店销售其产品。他们会做你尝过的最好的沙拉,”他说。


室内农场全年运作,一般不受恶劣天气的影响。Iron Ox说,这将允许该公司提供稳定的物流,而不会发生重大的价格变动。


在接下来的几年里,铁牛公司表示,计划在美国市附近的其他地区开设机器人农场。这些计划要求农场建造在温室内而不是大型室内空间。这些设计将主要使用自然光来大大降低电力成本和节约能源。


一些环境专家说,机器人养殖也有可能因为人口增长而增长。地球上的人口预计将在2050之前达到100亿。目前世界人口约为75亿。世界资源研究所(World Resources Institute)的一份报告说,这种增长将使得找到在不进一步损害环境的情况下养活更多人的方法变得非常重要。