Rowbot prototype

Rowbot prototype.

December is turning out flush on the robot news front, what with Google’s “moon shot” acquisition of Waltham, Mass.-based Boston Dynamics, maker of borg-ian robotic contraptions with names like BigDog, Cheetah, and Wildcat.  Concurrently, there’s the less alien but equally intriguing (at least to us aggies) debut in NPR’s The Salt blog, AgFunder News, and Minnesota Business Journal, of the Rowbot phenom: a self-propelled, terrestrial, 22-inch wide by 7-foot long robot designed for the singular purpose of applying in-season fertilizer nitrogen to corn. If the Boston Dynamics bots conjure up images of fleet-footed quadrupeds and armored insects, Rowbot is more like a slug trailing beneath a leafy canopy, slow but sure. Continue reading