Faced with seesawing commodity prices and the pressure to be more efficient and environmentally friendly, farmer Jamie Butler is trying out a new worker on his 450-acre farm in England’s Hampshire countryside.

A farming robot named
A farming robot named “Tom” produced by Small Robot Company as part of a field trial to develop new farm technologies, in East Meon, southern England, Friday Nov. 30, 2018. The “agri-tech” startup company is developing lightweight autonomous machines that can carry out precision “seeding, feeding and weeding” in the hope of transforming food production. (AP Photo / Kelvin Chan)

Methodically inspecting Butler’s winter wheat crop for weeds and pests, the laborer doesn’t complain or even break a sweat. That’s because it’s a four-wheel robot dubbed “Tom” that uses GPS, artificial intelligence and smartphone technology to digitally map the field.

Joe Allnutt, left, lead roboticist at British startup company the Small Robot Company, with robotics engineer Thomas Burrell operating a farming robot named
Joe Allnutt, left, lead roboticist at British startup company the Small Robot Company, with robotics engineer Thomas Burrell operating a farming robot named “Tom” as part of a trial in East Meon, southern England, Friday Nov. 30, 2018. The “agri-tech” startup company is developing lightweight autonomous machines that can carry out precision “seeding, feeding and weeding” in the hope of transforming food production. (AP Photo / Kelvin Chan)
British farmer Jamie Butler where he is letting British startup company the Small Robot Company test out agricultural robots on his fields as part of a trial in East Meon, southern England, Friday Nov. 30, 2018.   The “agri-tech” startup company is developing lightweight autonomous machines that use GPS positioning and artificial intelligence to digitally map fields to carry out precision “seeding, feeding and weeding”, in the hope of transforming food production. (AP Photo / Kelvin Chan)
British farmer Jamie Butler where he is letting British startup company the Small Robot Company test out agricultural robots on his fields as part of a trial in East Meon, southern England, Friday Nov. 30, 2018. The “agri-tech” startup company is developing lightweight autonomous machines that use GPS positioning and artificial intelligence to digitally map fields to carry out precision “seeding, feeding and weeding”, in the hope of transforming food production. (AP Photo / Kelvin Chan)

Tom’s creator, the Small Robot Company, is part of a wave of “agri-tech” startups working to transform production in a sector that is under economic strain due to market pressures to keep food cheap, a rising global population and the uncertainties of climate change.

Source: The Associated Press