Vision Robotics is the company I founded about ten (long, long, long) years ago.
Even pruning can be mechanised. Vision Robotics, a company based in San Diego, has demonstrated a prototype vine-pruning robot. Good pruning requires skill to balance the growth of the vine. The vines also need to be trimmed at certain locations and at precise angles to grow the best grapes for winemaking. The robot is a bit slower than a good human pruner, but it will speed up. It should be able to prune vines at about half the cost of manual labour, says Derek Morikawa, the chief executive of Vision Robotics.
The company is also developing apple- and orange-picking robots with multiple arms. These too rely on building 3-D models of trees and the fruit growing on them. Mr Morikawa thinks the crop-scouting ability of such automated machines will prove highly valuable. Supermarkets, for instance, like uniformity so if they want, say, apples of a certain size and in a particular state of ripeness, a farmer could use the model to identify exactly where such apples are growing.
I was hoping for The Cover of the Rolling Stone, but hey, a couple of paragraphs on page umpteen gazillion of The Economist is a start. It's certainly a step up from Good Fruit Growers Magazine (I'm not kidding - that's actually the name of a magazine) and the numerous other ag rags that you've never heard of and I can never remember that we've been featured in.
I'm rather hoping this isn't my company's entire 15 minutes of almost fame, but we'll see.