The Hands-Free Hectare
In a soggy Shropshire field on the edge of the Harper Adams University campus an amazing experiment is just beginning.
Can you plant, grow and harvest a hectare of spring barley using only robots?
If they pull this off, this small team will be the first in the world to manage such a feat.
But it is not going to be easy.
People are forbidden
I was there as they started the project and brought robots to the field for the very first time.
The ground rules are simple.
There's a hectare of land which will be fenced off and only robots and machines will be allowed inside with the odd drone flying overhead.
People are completely forbidden - hence the project nickname, "The hands free hectare".
In his 1966 story At the Bottom of a Hole, sf writer Larry Niven describes a self-guided tractor in a somewhat more extreme robot farm - in orbit!
Five miles above the sunlight tube, the sky was a patchwork of small squares, split by a central wedding ring of lake and by tributary rivers, a sky alive with the tiny red glints of self-guided tractors.
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