DUETTE, Fla. -- Human and machine have 10 seconds per plant. They must find the ripe strawberries in the leaves, gently twist them off the stems and tuck them into a plastic clamshell. Repeat, repeat, repeat, before the fruit spoils. One February afternoon, they work about an acre apart on a farm the size of 454 football fields: dozens of pickers collecting produce the way people have for centuries -- and a robot that engineers say could replace most of them as soon as next year. The future of agricultural work has arrived here in Florida, promising to ease labor shortages and reduce the cost of food, or so says the team behind Harv, a nickname for the latest model from automation company Harvest CROO Robotics.Harv is on the cutting edge of a national push to automate the way we gather goods that bruise and squish, a challenge that has long flummoxed engineers.Designing a robot with a gentle touch is among the biggest technical obstacles to automating the American farm. Reasonably … [Read more...] about Agricultural workers may soon be made of tech and steel
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PHOENIX — “Democrats hope demographic changes will translate into a win in November,” wrote The Nation magazine a while back. “Arizona, the second-fastest-growing state … brimming with Latinos and Independents [is] where the bloodiest fight is likely to take place,” correspondent Marc Cooper trumpeted. Liberal writers of all stripes have been bullish in recent years on the Democrats’ prospects in this southwestern state long associated with Barry Goldwater-style arch conservatism. “[C]onsider the influence of ongoing demographic changes in the state which have been steadily increasing the percentage of minority eligible voters, mostly Hispanics, and reducing the share of relatively conservative white working-class voters,” wrote Ruy Texeira in the New Republic, arguing that Arizona is a state that’s ready to “flip.” Democratic optimism in Arizona has even reached across the pond as well, with the U.K.‘s … [Read more...] about Is THIS the Year Arizona Finally Turns Blue?