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part of a new generation of machines that target the last frontier of agricultural mechanization - fruits and vegetables destined for the fresh market, not processing, which have thus far resisted mechanization because they're sensitive to bruising.
"There aren't enough workers to take the available jobs, so the robots can come and alleviate some of that problem," said Ron Yokota, a farming operations manager at Tanimura & Antle, the Salinas-based fresh produce company that owns the field where the Lettuce Bot was being tested.
"We need to increase our efficiency, but nobody wants to work in the fields," said Stavros G. Vougioukas, professor of biological and agricultural engineering at the University of California, Davis.
A soldier in the field can carry 120 pounds of gear. Reducing the weight load sometimes comes in the form of duplication. At some checkpoints in Iraq, flashlights have embedded video and audio recorders that can run ID checks. A parascope helps a soldier shoot around corners. And handheld devices that can translate basic phrases into Arabic helps soldiers communicate with civilians in Iraq.