In the future, human beings will be replaced by toaster-sized satellites… at least when it comes to measuring crop yields. Other activities I’m not entirely sure about. We can hope, right?
The science fiction-ready concept comes courtesy Descartes Labs, a company looking to take the job of estimating farmers’ crop yields away from 2,900 mostly part-time government workers who handle the surveying from the ground. The plan is to put it up in the air in the figurative hands of 200 small satellites working from outside the Earth’s atmosphere. These flying toasters – not particularly reminiscent of everyone’s favorite screensaver from the ‘90s – are set to go into orbit as early as this summer.
According to Descartes CEO Mark Johnson, his company has already been successful in more accurately determining crop data than the USDA based on analyzing satellite data from other sources. “Thanks to the numbers that we released last year, we’ve definitely gotten serious interest from the agriculture community,” he told Quartz.
The company believes this new army of small satellites will be the icing on the cake that, and, as Quartz put it, will “revolutionize” the crop scouting industry. Assuming those satellites don’t become sentient, turn against us and destroy humanity as we know it. I know that sounds improbable, but at one point, so was the idea of 200 toaster-sized satellites counting our crops.