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Poor ducks! A robot is about to take up their job…

Ducks have been used for centuries to clean paddy fields. That might change… In this image ducks patrol rice paddies in Nigata, Japan for bugs and weeds.
Image credit: Photograph by JTB Media creation, INC./ALAMY

For as long as we can look back in time farmers in China and other “rice” areas have been using ducks in the rice paddies to curb on bugs of various sort. In the last decades pesticides have been used but now farmers are coming back to ducks. It is a win win co-operation. The ducks feed on bugs and weeds and save labour (and harvest) to the farmer.

Now there might be an alternative to ducks. If you are fluent in Japanese you can watch the clip below. Even if you don’t know Japanese you can see a tiny robot at work on rice paddies. The robot, Aigamo is its name, that happens to be the name of the technique to use ducks in the fields,  has been designed by Nissan to operate in rice paddies when ducks are not at hand. It is powered by sunlight and uses WiFi and GPS to orient itself in the field. It keeps roaming and as it does a mechanism on its “belly” moves the water and the mud below obscuring the bottom to sunlight. This blocks the growth of weeds.

I found the news (although relatively old, it appeared in June 2019) interesting and the robot is… cute.

So, you see, robots are not steeling work from humans only they are starting to affect ducks too, although I should say that most likely ducks don’t care as much as we do.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.