The annual labor costs associated with picking strawberries is upwards of $750 million in the North America.  Agricultural robots – sometimes referred to as “agrobots” – are suppose to make a dent in that number across much more then just juicy strawberries.  But robots are only part of the agriculture automation equation.

The broader question is simply better efficiency, lower production costs and reduced product lost or waste.  From a media and social discussion perspective, the agricultural robots storyline got a recent boost when the FAA approved the restricted use of drones for agricultural applications.  As reported in the April media cycle, the Federal Aviation Administration recently allowed an exemption for commercial drone use under its regulations, creating a large opening for industry to start taking advantage of the systems for farming and other uses.

The Agricultural Robots trend was up +6 points or +15 percent at 39.  The topic closed this month near its 4-year rating high of 39 points.  Although the 4-year media rating trend and declining momentum suggests a possible reversal, the most recent news from the FAA could return the trend to the media spotlight.  Drones can be used for good or evil.  In this case it’s clearly a good application.

A number of industries are looking at drones for better visibility into their respective product delivery chain.  But it was the agricultural robotics area that fought and won early access to the one element of farm and harvesting automation.