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Monday, July 15, 2013

Vision Robotics on the News

My company, Vision Robotics Corp., was on the San Diego Channel 10 6PM news this evening. If you're curious, to see the segment, visit and find the link for "Robots created by San Diego company" (I haven't been able to figure out how to link directly to the video).

10news did a pretty good job - especially considering that they did everything (contacted us, shot the video, did the editing, and produced it) in a span of just over 6 hours.  The first three steps were all done by one guy.

The only noticeable mistake is that they call it a "Lettuce Trimmer" when it's actually a "Lettuce Thinner."


Clovis e Adri said...

Very, very interesting. Congratulations.

How does the costs of the machines plus maintainance compare with the costs of employees in a per year base?

Bret said...

How about on a per acre basis?

The lettuce thinner costs between $25 and $75 per acre (including financing, maintenance, operator labor costs, material costs, etc.) compared to manual labor which ranges from $110 to $175 per acre.

The grape vine pruner is still a prototype so the final numbers aren't yet in, but we expect it to be about 25% cheaper than manual labor. The grape growers want it developed as a hedge in case of labor shortages.

Bret said...

By the way, the ugly guy in the beard in the video? That's me!

erp said...

Here's a direct link.

Bret, handsome and well-spoken -- a pleasure to meet you.

Much success with these ventures.

Howard said...

Cool. They did do a good job and I thought you came across quite well.

Clovis e Adri said...


What is the model of the business - people do buy the machines from the company or lease it?

As I understand, you still use someone driving around the robots - do you think your company can also use self driven robots in near future, like those cars Google is testing around in highways?

Bret said...


They buy the machines. Most agricultural products in the US are produced by huge corporations and/or cooperatives so they buy multiple machines each.

The lettuce thinner is pulled by an operator driven tractor. The grape vine pruner is completely autonomous once it's placed at the beginning of the row of vines, and then it operates on its own until it comes to the end of the vines.

The thinner could eventually be autonomous. The two hurdles are safety and getting it to deal with turning around at the end of the bed where there are ditches and pipes and all kinds of hazards.

Peter said...

Very impressive, Bret, congrats. May your numbers soon come up. I mean, may your ship soon come in. Oh, hell, I hope you get very rich quickly.

I'm wondering whether our political differences, and those between AOG and me, are coloured in part by our different professions. I think so, but I'm just not sure I can articulate why.

Anonymous said...


I would like to think so, but I know too many people in my profession who are even more ... non-libertarian ... than you. On the other hand, I do notice a pattern that those who share my political tendencies in my profession are those who apply their professional skills to political thought, knowing how easy it is to have an elegant and deeply thought design go all wrong due to unexpected consequences.

Bret said...


In my case my thinking was colored by the my previous profession of supporting a futures trader (he happens to by the once-in-a-while co-blogger here). That exposed me to complexity in that as soon as you thought you had a good idea of what was going on, the market handed your ass to you in short order. I also read tens of thousands of pages on economic, market, finance, and related topics.

Before that I was much less anti-government and pretty much always voted Democrat or Independent.

I think that young engineers are generally enamored with the idea of engineering society in a neat and orderly fashion. I think that older engineers, especially ones that have worked on large, complex projects that haven't work out so well, tend to be more skeptical of that.

Peter said...

Bret, it is interesting that your present political perpsective came out of your experience as a trader. I first became interested in the influence of professions when I began to notice certain patterns in clients on the family law side of my practice. It's all anecdotal and begs the question of whether it's a reflection of the influence of the professions or the kind of personalities attracted to them, but it's hard to ignore. Cops and military types full of notions of honour and duty can react to the whole no-fault legal system and their spouses "me first" financial demands and new carefree lifestyles with a visceral, anguished disgust--they can barely stand being alone in a room with their own lawyer. Software techies can stay up all night writing extremely long proposed separation agreements that are clearly intended to map out each and every detail of everyone's future lives (especially respecting the children) and address every possible future contigency rather than define the bottom line of rights and duties. Artsy types can be impervious to perspectives other than their own and can tend to ignore the big picture and fight about the most minor matters. Shrinks and the caring professions can be extremely litigious--they seem to sense mumbo-jumbo about "closure" and "getting on with your life" is just a party line for the little people. But the most take-no-prisoners, out-of-control, ungovernable clients can be other family law lawyers.

erp said...

Peter, also anecdotal, but I've noticed that the further left one is, the more convinced one is of being on the high moral ground and the more contemptuous one is of those grubby little people below one.

Odd that.

Anonymous said...


I think the causation is the other way. Those who want to feel morally and culturally superior naturally become Lefists because that's where their penchant will be indulged. You can live however you like as long as you say the politically correct slogans.

erp said...

Peter, Upon further reflection, I think you are right (pun intended).

Peter said...

the further left one is, the more convinced one is of being on the high moral ground

And they're smarter, too. In fact, they seem to spend a lot of time arguing among themselves whether we are evil or stupid.

But I've noticed a third theme that is becoming more popular--we're disordered. In particular, we lack empathy, today's postmodern virtue of choice. Marx, meet Oprah. Sometimes they use a vulgar Darwinism (is there any other kind?) to suggest a genetic deficiency, sometimes it's a cultural affliction that overrides well-rounded human nature, which by amazing coincidence finds its highest expression in the programme of the left wing of the Democratic Party.

I confess I love it when they do this and I get a chance to argue with them. Having been trained this kind of stuff at Orrin's, it's not too difficult to tie them up in knots. I like to ask them to explain how, given the fact that we have had several successive generations of universal, secular public education with progresive curriculums administered by left-leaning teachers, they now find themselves surrounded by hordes of drooling troglydytes and robber barons. The more honest among them will grimace, but a lot will just roar back with drivel about shock jocks, etc. It's a real bummer when democracy keeps interfering with the natural flow of history.

OTOH, you can perhaps better understand my discomfort when the more excitable on our side grab the microphone to wax loudly about how wonderful greed is.

erp said...


My contempt for RINO's is unsurpassable -- to quote Buzz Lightyear, it's to infinity and beyond.

We have no side, we have individuals like our fellow commenters here and few others writing blogs or commenting here and there. The problem as I see it is that lots of people realize the left (they don't even know what to call them) are wrong, but most don't have any historical perspective and either never knew, or forgot their Civics lessons or American/World history. That’s why so much care was taken to ruin the public schools. Our FF said we need an informed citizenry if we wanted to keep our Republic and when old geezers like me all die off, there’ll be precious few left who could be said to be informed of the truth.

The tea party must have serious leadership. Grassroots is okay for a start, but then it needs people like you and the other guys here to lead, so you can speak the same language as the masters of semantics who know all the words, but none of the meaning. We need leaders who aren’t self-serving, who know their history and aren’t intimidated when people like Harry start throwing around obscure writers and bizarre takes on places like the blood baths in Southeast Asia.

The argument must be about fundamentals. Socialism doesn’t work. We have at hand an example as from up high (if I believed in God I might say sent by him/her) to graphically depict what happens when lefties are let loose to spend our money on good deeds aka as lining the pockets of the faithful.

Family members here in the northeast are perfect examples. They went to best schools and are very smart. They aren't socialists, but they read all the right media, i.e., NYT, Time Magazine, Vanity Fair ... and watch the trendy "news" and "documentaries," go to the theater and movies, read literally hundreds of books all with the same theme: evil corporations , evil religious fanatics, ditto skin head nazis, middle class morality, even while enjoying seven figure plus incomes and life styles a Turkish Pasha of old would have envied.

They simply can’t believe it when we tell them most of what they know is lies and/or distortions. How is that possible? they say. Why do we think what we read on the internet is true, while the gray lady and her collaborators are wrong and deliberately so? When we start pointing out things one after the other, their eyes glaze over and say, no it can’t be so.

The reason as you know, why one can’t argue with a real lefty is they have no argument and must resort to name calling. Think of Harry’s young Brazilian alter ego, Clovis, who apparently with a straight face can berate his elders for not giving the feds a chance (as if they haven’t been at it for 100 years with nary a success). It would be hilarious if it wasn’t our country’s and our children’s future at stake.

What I still can’t understand is how and why really bright people like Charles Johnson (Little Green Footballs), Andrew Sullivan and Orrin Judd went over to the dark side. Especially Orrin who got so very nasty and defensive – not to say also very wrong.

Clovis e Adri said...

I was out of this thread for a while, only to come back and see Erp in some cryptic reflection.

Sorry to tell you, Erp, but your difficulty in convincing your grandsons that you are right, and they are wrong, goes as far back as when humans were in caves.

I wonder Erp, how it was back then when you were twenty and your grandparents were lecturing you... how much of what they said you followed?

erp said...


I never knew any of my grandparents. My father came to the U.S. with his father and older brother as child because his brother was going to taken to fight in Greek war not because of economic reasons. They were well off by Albanian standards.

In 1933, when he was 30, he returned to Albania to get married to a 17 year old girl he'd never met. They returned and I was born in the Bronx for which I thank him with every breath.

My father, having grown up here, loved this country and when something particularly pleased him like cold orange juice, he would raise his glass and say, God Bless America.

Clovis e Adri said...


A touching description, thank you.