As arable farming moves into a new age of technology, one of the firms leading the way – the Small Robot Company – is calling for farmers’ views on how they can use automation so it can tailor future developments to growers’ needs. CPM finds out more.

By Charlotte Cunningham

There is a very likely chance that you’ll have heard of the Small Robot Company, following an incredible crowdfunding campaign that raised £1.2m – largely due to support from the farming community.

The firm is working to maximise food production while reducing environmental impact and believes it can do so via its three small robots – Tom, Dick and Harry, which are able to seed, feed and weed arable crops autonomously.

Following the launch of its first prototype in 2017, field trials are currently under way on 20 farms across the UK.

While the results of this continue to come in, the forward-thinking firm is already looking at the next stages of development. Itis calling for arable farmers to give their views on automation in order to create a service with growers at the forefront of priorities.

“The Small Robot Company is researching and developing a blueprint for human robotic interaction (HRI) – this is the study and design of interactions between people and robots,” explains co-founder Ben Scott-Robinson.

“This research is a fundamental part of our commitment to creating a service all users will love – from our farmer customers to members of the public. We are looking to create seamless, empathetic robotic interaction experiences. In a nutshell, we are designing robots that work in a way you can trust and feel comfortable with.

“We are currently conducting the first robot/farmer experience research. As part of this, we wanted to ask our core audience – farmers – some questions about how you feel about robots and our proposed robotic service.”

The survey is multiple choice and estimated to take around six minutes to complete. Once closed, it will  be followed by a two-day design hack in Clerkenwell, the output from which will be developed into a first-of-its kind commercial HRI guide.

“We’re on the cusp of a fourth agricultural revolution, taking farming into the digital age, with British ideas and British technology at the helm,” says Ben. “Our Tom, Dick and Harry robots will completely transform what’s possible on the farm and radically reduce chemical usage while improving soils, profits and yields. It’s the ultimate sustainable farming model.”

To take part in the survey, visit: