My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Australia and Robots in Farming and Mining - Why Programming taught at Early Childhood necessary

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Australia and Robots in Farming and Mining - Why Programming taught at Early Childhood necessary

Many might dislike the idea of Robots coming to take our jobs, especially Americans, who fear Robots will take away their menial jobs such as in the Fast Food Industry by 2017 as predicted in my blog article entitled “Fast Food Robot taking over by 2017 - How Drones like Amazon and PrimeAir and not Humanoid Robots will be the first Robots by 2015”.


But automation is a slow process and using Robots will be initially expensive, especially if the Robotic solution took time to research and develop. Any task that’s simple, repetitive and hazardous and involves just tracking large amounts of information accurately and moving goods from point A to point B is definitely up for Robotic Automation.

Enter the Robots of Australia, which are slowly taking over the country to do their simple, repetitive, hazardous from milking cows to Mining as stated in the article “Robot trucks do the jobs Australians shun”, published 18 November 2014, BBC News


There’s more to Robotics or Mechatronics as it’s called in Australia than their representation in the Movie Pacific Rim. Far from just being killers of Kaiju, in Australia, they’re becoming just as important as their role in the end-of-the-world disaster movie!

Australian Robotic Farmers – From removing weeds, checking on Fruit trees and Milking Cows
Australia's wild, untamed wilderness is huge, wild and dangerous. Many Australians, despite their wild beginnings as a nation, now live in relative comfort on the coastline. They shun the difficult and dangerous work of farming as well as Mining, preferring to do higher level jobs in a country that is mostly untamed desert that extends for thousands of miles.

Not to mention having a small population relative t the vast wilderness of Australia, which is a challenge even when it comes to interconnecting this nation’s Telecom Infrastructure, which requires novel thinking as noted in my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers and Australia - The Parent Trap Down Under”.

For that reason, Robots are slowly taking over farming jobs across Australia.  Prof Sukkarieh's has developed a giant Solar powered Robot called Ladybird that uses Image recognition to detect weeds and remove them. This does duty along with the Mantis, which is really a Robot that detects when trees are ready to bear fruit. 


Robots such as these were once oddities and curios are now seriously being considered for work on farm where there is a shortage of local labour which is being temporarily augmented with labour from the East Indian Islands and labourers from Thailand and mainland China.

But as it’s expensive and dangerous to work on these remote farms, the high cost of paying such labour means Robots, which can work for 24/7 at very low labour costs and never get tired, complain except when they need maintenance, are slowly looking to be the perfect fit for Australia's Labour Shortage.


Robots that milk Cows aren't such a novel concept, but it's still amazing to watch cost saunter up and be milked on their own. But what about Mining in Australia? Can the process of extracting ore be done by Robots that so far look very fragile and frail?

Robots in Mining – Robots and Drones needed along with Drone Pilots,  Supervisors and Engineers

In the initial stages, there will be need for Remote operators, as clearly these Robots can't work unsupervised. Australians will still working in such large mines owned by the many mining giants such as Rio Tinto...they just won't be lower level workers, says Head of Innovation at mining at Rio Tinto John McGagh.



Already, there's evidence of automation at the Australian Mines.

Most of the Trucks that carry ore are slowly being driven by semi-autonomous systems basically Robot and the same market that Mercedes-Benz is gunning for in 2017 with their self-Driving fleet of trucks as detailed in my blog article entitled “Mercedes-Benz Future Self-Driving Truck by 2017 – Robots promote Truck Drivers to Fleet Managers as Self-Driving Trucks more efficient”.

This means less manual labour and more Remote Operator of Trucks, Drilling Equiptment and Ore Crushing equiptment.  It also translates to increased saving in use of chemicals in ore extraction and most importantly Energy. Though it may be slivers of percentages saved in expenditure, it translates to billions of dollars over long timescales. Especially in Energy Usage, which Head of innovation at mining at Rio Tinto John McGagh claims already gobbles up 5% of the world’s Energy Production for Mining Activities just to satisfy China!


Undoubtedly, there is already a demand for Drone Pilots. A similar demand is expected in the US of A as the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) is set to let Commercial Drone flights become a reality as noted in my blog article entitled “FAA to allow Commercial Drones in 2015 - US$100,000 per year for 100,000 Drone Pilot jobs for the next five years”.

Drones are probably being used in the mining to survey large swathes of land and do:

1.      Inventory tracking of equiptment
2.      Remote mapping
3.      Inspections
4.      Prospecting

Again, a similar comparisons can be drawn from BP (British Petroleum) use of Drone contractor AeroVironment to fly unmanned Drones over the Prudhoe Bay in Alaska for Oil Pipeline inspection and 3D Mapping as detailed in my blog article entitled “FAA to allow Commercial Drones in 2015 - US$100,000 per year for 100,000 Drone Pilot jobs for the next five years”.

Australia Training Robot Pilots – Programming from Early Childhood a necessary Skill for Future Pilots

Australia may thus already be training their children and University Graduates with the requisite skills to become Remote Operators of Robots and Drones, which are technically a type of Robot. New skills are needed, such as mechatronics, an amalgam of the skills of a Mechanical Engineer and Electronics Engineer skilled in the Maintenance of Robots.

This is already occurring from a very young age in Australia, with the Brisbane's School of the Future Mechatronics teacher Megan Hastie teaching children the Computer Programming skills necessary to pilot Robots remotely even as many of her students are themselves remotely taught.

This is amazingly similar to Jamaica's recent push in to training young girls in the art of Computer and Robotics programming as a follow-up Workshop of the successful Jamaican Girls Coding 2014 Summer Camp held in August 2014 as stated in my blog article entitled “Girls Who Code Clubs Christmas eCard Project - Workshop for Software Coding Females creating Evangelion Pilots passing on their knowledge”.

 But unlike in the US of A, where many are worried about Robots taking away their jobs, like any worker new on the Job, these Robots will need supervisors. Australia is rapidly embracing this reality of Robots doing that’s simple, repetitive and hazardous jobs for which no cheaper labour solution exists.

Robots, until they become AI (Artificially Intelligent), will need Australian Remote Operator, Maintenance Engineers and Drone Pilots to guide their work. Not to mention make sure that they don’t strike when they take their mandatory five (5) minute maintenance break!


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