At Purdue it’s a plane, a drone and a farmer’s new best friend but does new technology cost human jobs?

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – In the farm fields of Purdue University, Indiana farmers are facing a new frontier.

Drones have dotted the landscape, capturing and analyzing what the eye could never see.

Dr. Melba Crawford, Associate Dean of Engineering for Research at Purdue, shows CBS4 the newest technology scientists are working on to revolutionize farming and impact everything what we weat to what we pay to eat it.

“It’s exciting,” Crawford said. “But challenging too. Extremely challenging.”

Purdue is leading the way in flight, from drones to unmanned planes, while others like scientists at UC Davis in California are making robots on the ground.

“This is really the next evolution in agriculture,” Dr. David Slaughter said.

It’s information that was once never thought possible to help farmers around the world.

But with such great benefit, is there a cost in terms of jobs?

And the question lies not only in agriculture but industries far and wide.

“I think it is a challenge that honestly we as scientists and engineers and people who are policy makers have not dealt with adequately,” Crawford said.

A recent Ball State University study doesn’t easy the worry either.

The study found automation could eventually eliminate up to half of all low-skilled jobs, specifically in areas like data entry, math, science, telemarketing and insurance risk.

At a growing number of Amazon distribution centers across the country, like ones in California, hundreds of robots have  joined the force.

“I think robotics is an aspect to grow and be successful here,” an Amazon spokesperson said.

But Amazon says the move has actually increased employment because of a new ability to meet a growing customer demand.

“Amazon robo units enable us to have 50 percent more inventory here in the facility,” the spokeperson said.

At Purdue, the challenge doesn’t have a simple answer.

But human jobs aren’t bleak either.

“This would augment information they have,” Crawford said. “This would not drive people off the farm.”

At a time when larger company-owned farms are demanding the best and fastest dada, there’s a new push to train a workforce to quickly adapt to man drones, planes and robots alongside the trusted, traditional tractor.

“This is a  continuum,” Crawford said. “And it’s a work in progress. There’s great opportunity.”

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