This is quite stunning. Right now there are no technical obstacles to such a scenario, and there are active projects in furtherance of such goals. The company behind all this is Vision Robotics.
This brings up some interesting points.
If you hadn’t noticed, more than 50% of the assembly of a car (Click Car once you open the link and note that was 1994!) is done by robots and the only reason the whole car isn’t robot assembled is political, not technical. The activities involved are relatively simplistic and easy to replicate. Computers are another area where robotics do the ‘heavy lifting’ of actually creating the circuit boards. The only thing is that labor is so cheap in Asia that it still makes sense to have humans dropping the chips onto the board. That won’t last long.
And we’re surrounded by simple robots if you really think about it.
Tap a button on your CD drive and the tray slides out and maybe even slides back in. A printer or scanner is also a robot. In the case of the printer it moves paper through at varying speeds below a print head that also moves. Scanners just move a scanning head across the page. An automatic dishwasher is another example of robotics. And if you really want to get technical cars are robots of a sort too. Cars also promise to become more robotic with the ITS program. The last element of danger in a car is the driver and it won’t be long before the driver is removed from control.
There is one thing robots do almost universally is to displace unskilled human labor. And that’s where you run into the problems.
What happens when the entire process of growing the food, processing the food and all the transportations steps in between occur? You essentially throw away human labor and create an untouchable class of society.
And you know sure as hell that even when robotics reduce overall costs that companies will NOT pass along any saving to the end consumer. Instead it’ll drive that money straight into profit for shareholders. Talk about the new sharecropping!
Of course robot fruit pickers may all be for moot if we can’t figure out robots to replace the bees that are mysteriously disappearing.