Field robot buyer in vulnerable position

Hekkert
Geert Hekkert Chief editor of Future Farming
Photo: Mark Pasveer
Photo: Mark Pasveer

The route to the field robot market has unexpected pitfalls and hidden traps. This brings with it concerns for all – particularly leaving potential buyers quite vulnerable.

For the updated field robot buying guide, Future Farming approached over 100 potential suppliers and manufacturers – 60 more than last year. It’s the booming market that many market analysts and experts predicted.

Crisis inspires innovation and action, as is clearly illustrated by Covid-19, the Glasgow Climate Pact, mandatory reductions in the use of pesticides and fertiliser, shortage of labour, as well a need to reduce the overall impact of agriculture on the environment. No surprise that growers have started investing in robots, rather than in conventional tractors and machinery.

15 new robots

Businesses, however, cannot run on concepts, promises and unknown purchase prices. So, this year our entry requirements for the 2022 guide included prices and (immediate) availability. Still, we have about 15 new robots.

A third of last years entries, however, dropped out. Some developers didn’t respond to our requests. Others have delayed coming to market and, no doubt, there are also those that may have run out of funding and/or no longer exist.

It’s clear that the route to the robot market has unexpected pitfalls and hidden traps. This brings with it concerns for all – particularly leaving potential buyers quite vulnerable. It takes a big leap of trust to invest in the latest, sometimes the first, piece of state-of-the-art equipment.

Reliability and performance

Buyers need to believe and rely on manufacturers to deliver reliability and performance. Field robots still lack standardisation or protocols for testing and certification. Hopefully, this will change soon.

Also read: Nearly 40 field robots in new and updated buying guide

More about