Science fiction has often envisioned a future where robots rule the world absent of human control. While this idea may be farfetched for today’s world, robots are quickly replacing humans in the workplace. This is especially true in the food industry where automated robots are used to ensure consistency and quality. Robots are reliable, perform tasks with lightning speed, don’t take lunch breaks and ask for nothing in return. Because of this, it’s no shock automation is key for every food plant of the future.

In Japan, SPREAD Co., Ltd is testing this idea to the limit announcing last week it has begun construction on what will be the world’s first fully automated, large-scale vegetable factory. Automated from seeding to harvest, the new facility will be capable of producing 30,000 heads of lettuce per day. The company says its long-term goal is to produce 500,000 heads of lettuce per day in five years.

Founded in 2006, SPREAD already operates the largest vegetable factory using artificial lighting in Kameoka, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. Currently four types of lettuce are produced totaling 21,000 heads per day that are shipped in a stable manner to approximately 2,000 stores throughout the year in the Tokyo area under the brand “Vege-tus.”

SPREAD says it is embarking on the new facility expansion to combat water and food shortages associated with extreme weather and an increasing population. The new facility incorporates environmentally friendly initiatives like water recycling, a unique air conditioning system and LED lighting.

When completed, the fully automated cultivation process will reduce labor costs by 50 percent and recycle 98 percent of the water it uses. Energy costs are projected to be reduced by 30 percent per head of lettuce with the use of LED lighting. Overall, the initial investment costs per head of lettuce will be reduced by 25 percent when compared to its Kameoka factory.

Construction is set to begin in the spring of 2016 with an anticipated shipping of goods by the summer of 2017.

More on the project can be found here: