UK supermarkets using robots to farm its food
British supermarkets are to start selling food farmed in the UK by robots for the first time in a project led by Waitrose, the Telegraph has learned.
The supermarket will use autonomous farming robots to analyse, plant and protect crops from weeds at a farm near Stockbridge, Hampshire.
In a three-year trial, the robots - known as Tom, Dick and Harry - will start cultivating fields used to grow wheat for bread and flour sold in Waitrose stores.
The robots, developed by Shropshire-based start-up the Small Robot Company, uses artificial intelligence to scan thousands of pictures of a specific field. The images allow them to spot weeds and plant seeds in the best location.
Farmers on the 4,000-acre Leckford Estate hope that the new technology will cut costs and improve yields - something they claim needs to happen if subsidies and the supply of European workers are affected by Brexit.
Andrew Hoad, the head farmer on the Leckford Estate, said the project was "hugely exciting" and would help improve the economics of UK farming after the loss of EU agricultural subsidies.
“The months ahead are going to be challenging for everyone,” he said. “Great innovation sometimes comes out of complex challenges.”
Waitrose hopes to eventually extend the robots to assist in the production of rapeseed, used in its canola oil products.