Robotic apple picker

They are getting closer all the time to full automation

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A great idea with garbage corporate greed mechanisms baked in:

And ever worse it’s a direct “Pay me a flat rate based on what you picked” regardless of market value fluctuations, and presumably even how well the fruit was picked, rather than standard lease fees for usage periods.

To be fair, I’m pretty sure most human apple pickers are paid by the unit of harvest, rather than by the time unit. I don’t know how this company was motivated, but I could imagine this model might be preferred by farmers, depending on a lot of factors. One less machine to have to store and maintain. And your costs are directly tied to your harvest. Which makes them very predictable I would think.

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As an employer, I would rather pay someone a set rate per unit of production rather than an hourly wage. If they produce more, I have more units to sell and they get paid more. If they produce less, they make less.
Hourly rate, I have no real way to motivate a worker other than using a bonus system, which will cost me more money.

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I don’t think a crew of people getting paid for their work equates to the same thing here. And you be surprised how much a supermarket chain will nickel and dime every bushell to the lowest possible price (at best) or simply not buy from you if you don’t go low enough (same with lost of primary producer industries)

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From the farmer’s perspective, it is exactly the same. They pay a fixed price per unit of production. So that pricing model is in fact the method that they are already used to. It’s just a machine instead of people doing the units of harvest. And by the way the availability of this machine probably is not subject to the political whims of the immigration system, nor to things like pandemics.

The perspective of the human workers does not matter in this scenario, they are not the ones deciding how to harvest the fruit.

The point here is, the simple fact that this company is pursuing a leasing model for their machine, doesn’t necessarily make them greedy. It might be what the growers prefer for all we know. This is not the same as the whole right to repair thing.

If the farmer has to buy the machine outright, they probably take out a loan and make payments. Those payments will be the same whether their crop has 80% failure or is successful. That’s a lot of risk compared to paying a fixed price per unit of actual harvest.

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One percent basically feed the 99%.

So, if the 99% got to decide these types of production decisions, the essential 1% probably
have to hang up the occupation and get a truck driving job or something. (Maybe a ‘reefer’ to make regular trips south of the border to load up on food.)

Farmers are smarter and more capable than they get credit for.
Only the tough make it.

Then it’s better for you to rent automation capacity. Paying workers on “piece rate” is intensely exploitative because that way labor tends to burn out while over-producing. Think of the dragon slayers of olde who for huge rewards tackled bigger and bigger dragons one after another up to the point that the last one ate them. Just because you can get a workforce to accept piece rate doesn’t mean it’s good for them or even sustainable.

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Small farmers, maybe, but Bill Gates technically is the country’s most productive farmer, or at least the one that owns the most farmland. When machines do most of the work and the landowner pays different crews to run the machines, hires consultants to deal with pest control and fertilization needs and foremen to deal with other laborers, a farmer is just another type of investor. I’m not sure tough is the word, or at least a full description. Call them agri-businessmen or agri-businesspeople.

These aren’t the people you meet at farmer’s markets, but they produce the vast majority of this nation’s food.

Yes, it is a performance based system. You are rewarded for completing a task, whether it be picking fruit, pulling weeds, or slaying a dragon. Why should I pay someone to slack off and do a 2nd rate job and cost me money in lost product and inefficient work.
The problem with people today is they have little to no work ethic. Everyone wants to do as little as possible and get paid like a rock star. They want to put in no effort and time, but still collect a “living wage”.

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The problem with owners today is that they only care about their profits and not providing enough money for their workers to live a decent middle-class life without constant economic stress. Ford is famous for saying he wanted his workers to be well enough off to afford one of his cars.

I’m only kidding. There is obviously a balance here and I too believe workers should be rewarded for merit to encourage better performance- but there is always a balancing act that is impossible to discuss on this forum without it turning into a political argument.

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At the top of her MMA career, Ronda Rousey said:
“I’m the highest paid fighter not because Dana (White) and Lorenzo (Fertitta) wanted to do something nice for the ladies. They do it because I bring in the highest numbers. They do it because I make them the most money.”
I am a strong believer in pay for performance.

Farmers are not running a charity; they are running a business. Most laborers are paid by production, so if you are trying to sell something to replace these laborers, it only makes sense that you would charge in the same or at least similar fashion. you know, for an… apples to apples comparison.

This device certainly wouldn’t replace all workers either. For one thing, at the present it is seems to be quite slow. since it is supposed to have 12 independent arms, i would expect them to be running continuously, but they weren’t. Time is another factor, when farmers start to harvest, they typically want to be done quickly. If they get that improved, then this is a nice new piece of equipment and viable. A second is all the fruit on the ground that isn’t bad, this device is missing all of that. it might not be grocery store quality, but it would still sell for processing.

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Very well said Alan. I couldn’t agree more!!

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