Farms with 10 employees or less are mostly exempt from OSHA regulations, by an act of Congress demanded by the agriculture industry.
The inability to imagine that people who aren't tech bros can and actually do sensible things to address problems they encounter--and that some of their problems might still be harder to solve than coding a signup form--is impressive.
H. L. Mencken, who probably died without seeing a computer (1956)
Almost everybody used to farm, and largely over the course of the 20th century, people quit farming and started getting college educations and learned to use computers.
That's literally my family history. My mom really didn't want to work on the family farm as a teenager, so she studied hard and got a scholarship, and a math degree, and ended up a programmer because women weren't allowed to be engineers.
It's such a waste of effort when people go on the attack against stereotypes, regardless if the stereotypes are socially acceptable. Why not address real people, with real experience of your own? You want to say something about "sensible" farmers you have known, or hard problems?
2. Many (most?) users here do more complex programming work than just signup forms.
3. Not everyone has the privilege of being familiar with both ag and programming. Plus, there are a lot of young users here. Today, a few people are learning more about silo safety. What’s impressive about that?
That's basically the pure form of what I'm talking about--the beliefs about many programmers that 1) they are smart, 2) their work is uniquely difficult among all other work, 3) any other work is obvious and simple, and working from those beliefs, 4) that if other people have problems with their work, they must just be too stupid to do the first few things that pop into programmers' heads.
But decent programmers get a lot of reinforcement of the idea that they are entitled to be spoon fed with the details of whatever needs to be worked on. They get treated as machines that can be pointed at any problem in any domain.
I know intuitively why this attitude of entitlement bothers people, but I don't have the right words at the moment.
What’s not impressive?
If you mean everyone should have read articles about ag safety or experienced it through work or family connections, to the point they’re to be blamed if not, I don’t agree. I’m fortunate enough to have been thoroughly exposed to farming growing up, and it sounds like you were too. Sadly, most people don’t get to have that experience due to population distribution in most industrialized countries, and their formal education and learning for fun may have gone in different directions. Field trips, field internships, WWOOF, 4H, etc. help and it’s important to support those efforts. In the meantime, I find it completely normal that some people learn about silo safety when a silo safety article is posted.
The internet makes connections and disseminates information like nothing in history, and that’s amazing
Now, if the machine can all but eliminate the need for the manual job they might sell a few. Because farmers love when shit just magically works because the day only has so many hours in it and one less someone has to stop what you're doing to deal with.
On a more technical note, bulk dry goods can generally be persuaded to follow gravity if you give them a kick start with vibration. This approach has a bunch of pluses (the equipment is very reliable and typically you can resolve blockage by varying the frequency) but I don't know why it isn't used for grain (though it is used on the trucks and rail cars that transport grain). You typically see it in bulk material handling settings where you can't afford to stop the line and/or it's too dangerous to make someone clear a blockage manually so I assume it's a cost thing and farming margins aren't big enough. It seems like these guys went and invented a robot that solves a problem that has an existing solution. But the article doesn't mention why the existing solution doesn't get used for grain and why the new robot will. I get that it's a high level press release but I still wanna know.
If you REALLY want farmers to use it, make it OPEN SOURCE.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7oxLIP1RRo here's a whole episode about grain bin rescue training. They raised $60,000 for first responders in their grain bin safety campaign.
Yes some individuals care less than they should. But every job has some people who are smart enough to value their own safety. And those people will seriously consider any device the significantly increases safety.
This is just a fancy way of calling people stupid because they don't do what you want.
Literally every subject you can think of is inundated with people complaining that the common man doesn't care enough or isn't doing it right.
"nice boat you've got there"
-no financial planner ever
Not people, humans, I'm sure some non-humans can get this right.
And it's not that they don't do what I want, they don't do what they want.
Is it really an amount of "care", or that some people just have an ability to not get bogged down by the scary stuff. There would be no X-Games at all if we were all wired the same. There are people that voluntarilly get off of their motorcycle at the apex of their jump to score some extra points. That's beyond insane to me, but to them it's part of the job.
If farmers aren't already using those, why would they buy this?
And I highly doubt half of those people were driving old cars with no seat belts.
If people can’t be arsed to use a simple safety tool it’s going to be a hard sell to build a robot.
Better would be to build a silo that has safety features built in and make it competitive on price.
I have been on HN since 2012 and this comment is the dumbest shit I have ever seen posted here. By a fair margin.
If you climb into an enclosed space with both burial and dust explosion hazards and your internal alarms aren't going off loud and strong ... you are, sadly, an idiot.
Most of the people I know who handle tasks like this are not idiots.
There are a lot of people with lower standards for safety like the PP indicated. They're not all wrong.
Since you've been in HN so long, it may have been a while since you last had a chance to look at the guidelines. Here's a quick friendly reminder:
"When disagreeing, please reply to the argument instead of calling names. "That is idiotic; 1 + 1 is 2, not 3" can be shortened to "1 + 1 is 2, not 3."
Be kind. Don't be snarky. Have curious conversation; don't cross-examine. Please don't fulminate. Please don't sneer, including at the rest of the community.
Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."
Thank you for contributing to this community.
'Dangerous' is contextual...if the risks of a task can be mitigated with some basic safety process, is it still dangerous? Getting into a grain bin is like rock climbing...go commando and you're playing with death, go in with the right process and gear and you'll be fine. Is it still 'dangerous' then?
I think this is a flawed analogy.
Although I don't do much rock climbing, I do take part in some other high consequence recreational activities. I agree that some of these risks can be mitigated with equipment and safety measures and, in fact, I don't feel like I'm courting death.
The difference here is that these are activities I have tens of thousands of reps of. Further, I am regularly practicing these activities in totally safe environments. Finally, I have mental models of thousands of different routes and locations and conditions and settings upon which to draw.
Contrast this with (for instance) entering in, and working on, a grain silo. You will not have had thousands of reps of this activity. You will not have entered thousands of different grain silos. You will not have trained for decades in practice grain silos. This is a very high consequence activity that you will have very shallow mental maps of.
I think that's an important distinction.
It suggests that regardless of equipment and processes, one should enter into (high consequence activities one has shallow mental maps of) on very high alert.
If you've ever read "Farmer Boy" about Almanzo Wilder, there's a bit where his father is telling him, he can go and live in the city, apprentice to someone and make a good living, but be dependent on other people, or he can be a farmer, take more risks with the weather and everything else, but be independent.
Please re-read - I said:
"Most of the people I know who handle tasks like this are not idiots."
I was disputing my parents assertion that "... (things like this are) not a dangerous task to them." I think my parent is incorrect.
So, even if you didn't mean to, I think you called a lot of people idiots.
I was just trying to reframe it as, people who work for themselves rather than a corporation tend to take a lot more risk and settle for a lot less pay.
So if you know people like that, you'd know about the consequent misfortunes.
I'm not trying to be critical, really, what it comes down to is that if "most of the people [you] know" wouldn't take the risks that I associate with farmers, then it makes me wonder what sort of people they are. What context you are coming from.
My grandfather was a farmer. I don't know the details, but he died after a mishap cleaning something with gasoline. Not immediately. I read a news item once where a farmer was overcome by something with toxic fumes, and the whole family died in succession, each one going in to rescue the other. There was another about someone who got their arms ripped off while working alone and managed to get help.
> I could teach anybody—even people in this room so no offense intended—to be a farmer. It's a process. You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn.
I've seen this kind of attitude toward lower-status occupations from fellow engineers and other educated professional types, and I find it distasteful. Unlike some other occupations which also provoke a "sanctimonious attitude" (such as, say, education, despite almost all of us having extensive experience with it as a consumer or product or something), farming seems like a blind spot for almost all educated professionals. I know I'm profoundly ignorant of how all of the different types of food I eat are produced. Everything I learn about the field - and I'm not naturally interested in it - makes me feel even more uninformed about all of the factors that go into producing and distributing food. That indicates to me that farmers, whom we depend on, absolutely deserve some respect and deference. When a common sentiment among this class is that farming can be reduced to simply putting some dirt over a hole with a seed inside, knowing an actual farmer is probably pretty valuable, even if that farmer isn't representative of farmers as a whole. Farming seems to be one of the few occupations where this "sanctimonious attitude" seems justifiable.
Sure if you give it away for free they’ll be there - but if you’re trying to sell it you need to convince them (or more likely get it illegal to not use one).
The romantic notion of the old man and his sons wringing out an existence on the family 40 is rapidly disappearing. Most of the grain production in the US is from massive farming corporations with tens of thousands of acres. At that kind of farm, there's a company mission statement that you hope has "Safety First" somewhere. There's someone in an office looking at hazards their workers encounter and ensuring they're OSHA-compliant, and doing risk analyses to find the most effective way to reduce risk and maintain productivity. A few miles away, there's a farm hand considering climbing into the company grain bin not because he'll personally benefit from shipping a harvest, he's at a $10.25 hourly rate regardless of the content of the bin, but he needs this paycheck to avoid his house being foreclosed upon and there are no non-farming jobs within 40 miles.
It's the office worker who is responsible for dozens of grain bins, each containing a quarter million dollars worth of grain, who is deciding whether to risk someone else's life or buy equipment instead.
I'm not in farming (though I have family who is), I'm in manufacturing automation, and the same safety guidelines apply. The risks I'm willing to take with my Sawzall in my backyard are not the same as what I can ask some minimum-wage line operator to stand in front of. That person doesn't really have a choice in the risks they're exposed to. I get to choose those risks, and I have a moral, ethical, and legal responsibility to minimize them. If there's a maintenance task that puts workers in a potentially dangerous area of the workcell, I'm not sending them in unprepared. I'm probably going to spend thousands on floor scanners, safety controllers, lockout/tagout energy shutoffs, and other risk mitigations to make it as safe as reasonably possible, and if I can skip those requirements and have a machine do the task instead that's an easy calculation to make.
Anything even mildly combustible can make a pretty big fireball.
We used to take individual serving packets and do giant flame spikes. We got a large can of it and did the same thing from the top of a stairwell with someone on the bottom floor with a lighter and someone up top with the creamer.
We hadn't fully considered the ramifications of our actions until we saw the fireball coming up at us.
But basically, even without the fire, it would have made the mushroom cloud.
I don’t think vibrating would work. Some silos are several stories tall, and the grain isn’t rigid... in fact, it can be quite moist. Point being, vibrations won’t travel very far.
The likelihood that your rank and file farmer is going to drop $5K on this thing when they know in the back of their mind that every time it fails they are going to have to get back into the grain bin anyway, is very very low.
the medium-scale farms (~10-20 permanent staff + labourers) i have experience with will have no problem making 6-figure purchases if they can do the math and see that the capital investment will pay off in a reasonable amount of time. the money is there, it's just not gambled. there's no value for a farmer in the appearance of innovation.
Sometimea even to their own detriment
So a setup that keeps the steering wheel cool even in the hot sun may sell better than a device that prevents the tractor from flipping over on you.
On the internet it's very easy for people to talk themselves into incredibly high standards for anything. But in real life most people are pretty astute at marginal trade-offs between risk and cost.
While it may look like you have a product with no competitors that will save lives, your actual competitor is "being slightly more careful" and it's free and people still aren't buying that. You still have to justify the value.
The bot could also be radio controlled and it would still remove the need of a human going in.
Another pet peeve of mine is the robot-as-a-service part - can't we just buy stuff and keep it anymore?
Yes. And it is radio controlled. To quote the article: "The Grain Weevil is a remote controlled specialized robot [...]" They also plan to make it autonomous but it is not yet.
Virtually all systems will produce uneven depth as the bins are loaded. You usually either end up with an upward cone in the middle from the pile, or an inverted cone when you're using a bin spreader to distribute the grain around the bin. The other time you can have an issue is if you have a powered spreader and forget to turn it on and load the bin unevenly on one side, which could end up being a structural issue.
They still have to get inside sometimes (less than without them) to fix it but it's the same with the robot if it's get stuck or battery dies.
I love to see projects like this making a difference for people doing critical, and often dangerous, blue collar work.
What's left over tends to be either controlling the stuff, dealing with failures, or work which has enough variance that it's really hard to automate reliably and perfectly.
But an auger would be more directly useful to the problem at hand.
Apologies for the pedantry!
His kids were the ones driving the wagon trains from the fields to the silos. That was even more exciting. No insurance, just "if you break it you have to help fix it"
This felt like a particularly strong wording. Is it due to risk of drowning in grain? Or just an annoying task?
Obviously these are low numbers compared to general population, but as a share of people who would actually enter a grain bin in the first place I would guess its high enough to matter.
Does not look fun at all
Would the Roomba have been as successful if it was named the iCockroach?
As a rock climber I find this comment absurd if true. Unless the number is extremely small.
I also find rigging a multi-pitch anchor and keeping ropes untangled tedious. But guess what: that keeps me alive! Sure there are some who climb without ropes, but that's an extremely small number of people.