International Ag Robotics Forum hosted at Fresno State

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A robot called "Orio" precisely navigates fields and orchards for farmers who need to weed or seed their acreage.

The French company Naio Technologies figures Valley farmers are ready to make use of this GPS technology.

"It's a future that we've already made existing, so now we're going to take another step, scale our fleet of robots and be able to not just operate one robot, but several robots per operator," says Naio Technologies Weeding Services Director Geraldine Hirschy.

Fresno State hosted an international ag robotics forum to help growers connect with tech startups.

"It's a really watershed moment," says Walt Duflock with Western Growers. "It's all this coming together of the ag problem around labor. We don't have enough of it. It costs too much and we need automation to help solve that."

Farmers say it's become more difficult to keep a steady workforce.

Tech companies haven't figured out how to harvest delicate fruit, but robotic units are already being used to disc fields, plant crops and spray fertilizer or herbicide - without a driver inside the tractor.

Blue White Robotics retrofits tractors to make them autonomous.

"What we are creating are tractors that are available 24-7," says Yanir Ariav.

Verdant Robotics of Los Banos has built systems that not only identify crops for specific treatment but they can also be designed to zap weeds with lasers.

In October, Fresno State will host a three-day event focused on automation solutions on the farm.
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