Jason Rambo, Jodi Haines, and Cody Alter all have ownership in Alter Farms, a cannabis farm located in Grants Pass, Ore. Lugging blue totes filled with harvested cannabis crops against a blue Oregon sky, all-terrain vehicles buzz about carrying the fruits of their labor with an unspoken excitement – as if an agricultural revolution has hit an exciting new reset in the western U.S. Alter Farms’ prize-winning cannabis has won numerous awards for their products, and their farm has been featured in publications such as The Potlander, Dope magazine, and Celeb Stoner.
As more states legalize cannabis production and use, growers are chugging to keep up with demand, which may give way to investment in robotics and automation technologies to boost productivity and scale their operations.
But the adoption of robotics may take some time to gain momentum. “The development of state specific cannabis regulations remains in flux,” Josh Kern, an analyst for autonomous systems with Lux Research in Boston. “While we expect states to slowly pass industry favorable legislation, it still remains a fragmented industry. The fragmented nature of the U.S. cannabis industry supports consolidation of cannabis production rather than innovations in technologies like robotics. There are a few robot companies developing solutions, but momentum remains slow.”
To boost productivity, cannabis growers are turning to solutions such as those from Bloom Automation. The company produces robots that are programmed with machine vision and path-planning algorithms. These robots have “learned” the cannabis crop from some 6,000 images to distinguish between the different parts of the plant and recognize and isolate the cluster of flowers needed for harvest. Thus far, such technology seems to be working. In Bloom’s case, they claim a 97% accuracy and a doubling of the efficiency capable of humans performing the same task.
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