Adoption of Automation in the Horticulture Industry : A Case Study at a Robotics Company in the U.S. and Canada
Abstract: The purpose of this thesis is to fill the previous research gap concerning automation in the horticulture industry by discovering the adoption of automation in the U.S. and Canada, exploring the possibilities of introducing autonomous solutions and provide recommendations as to how this could create opportunities for small robotics companies targeting the industry. A case company in the U.S. and Canada was used as an example of a small robotics company for the case study. Two research questions were formulated: RQ1: Which major tasks in the horticulture industry should a small robotics company aim to automate? RQ2: What are the barriers for companies in the horticulture industry to invest in automated solutions? A mixed methods research with a pragmatic, inductive and exploratory approach was employed. The primary source of data was gathered from surveys, due to the geographical diversity of the region studied. The surveys reveal that the average level of automation across all respondents averaged at 47%. Given the strategy of the case company, a small robotics company is argued to aim to automate the following tasks: placing plant liners, sticking cuttings and planting seed, spacing of plants and containers, plant pruning, harvesting and grading production, and pesticide application. The horticulture industry is showing low barriers to invest in automation. The relatively high levels of automation are leading to increased trust in automation and further investments in automation. This is shown in the technology being perceived as useful amongst 75-85% of respondents and perceived as easy to use amongst 94% of respondents.
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