On the farmlands of Arizona, the world’s largest farming robot is being rolled out to help secure the future of food. The robot, which is called the Field Scanalyzer, looks a bit like a bridge at first glance, spanning from one side of the crop field to the other.
With this vantage point over the field, the robot uses its sensors and cameras to take photos and collect data about the crops below. This data includes each individual plant’s color, temperature, and the angle of its leaves. That specific data is then sent to researchers at George Washington University and St. Louis University, who are training algorithms to make connections between a plant’s physical characteristics and its genes.
So, how could that help us feed the people of tomorrow? As described in FreeThink, Arizona’s dry and arid climate isn’t great for most crops, but it is similar to what scientists predict some regions are heading toward in the future, thanks to global warming. By analyzing how crops grow in Arizona today, scientists can start preparing to grow crops in a hotter, drier future.