Robots used in agriculture are no longer a novelty, they are a necessity. Using intelligent machines leads to reduced production costs, reduce monotony of farmers and increased productivity. In recent years great investments were made to develop intelligent robots that require little human input during operation. These machines are designed to replace humans in heavy works on the field or in tasks that require repetitive actions. Almost all areas of agriculture are covered by robots.
From autonomous tractors and to a system that sorts potatoes, robots are able to become intelligent machines that can move and perform tasks in the right place at the right time.
01. Autonomous robot tractor
In Belgium a team of researchers from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) and Flanders’ Mechatronics Technology Centre (FMTC) have created a robot tractor that can make a wide range of maneuvers and is very accurate. A complete and accurate operation is obtained thanks to the multitude of sensors integrated into the tractor, a GPS system for positioning and a powerful computer to process information. This heavy machinery has a very small tolerance, in the range of centimeters.
02. Potato sorting system
At University of Lincoln’s Robotics Lab was developed a robotic system that sorts and can detect diseases of potatoes. While cultivation and harvesting potatoes is done in an automatic way or even using robots, their sorting is still done manually.
This system is called TADD (Trainable Anomaly Detection and Diagnosis) and uses artificial intelligence to “detect, identify and quantify many of the common blemishes affecting potatoes”. From a technical viewpoint, the system is simple and uses a camera and a computer. Complicated is the program that controls the system and training to detect potatoes problems.
Armadillo is a robot developed at University of Southern Denmark and Aarhus University to navigate with high precision in row crops and humanitarian demining. Reached at its third generation, the robot can be used on any type of terrain and can move in any direction. Replacing wheels with independently driven tracks resulted in a higher mobility and stability. Electrical power input for the electric motors is made from a battery pack with a capacity of 55 Ah.
According to the researchers, in future there will be a new version of the robot that can move independently. Such a system will include installation of a FroboBox computer based on ROS technology.
04. Robot for soil sterilization
Developed in Japan by Mitsubishi Research Institute the robot is designed to inject into the soil medication for sterilization. Used in limited areas, the machine can compute and can change its position using the laser triangulation guidance system. It is used after cultivation for injecting substances into the soil against weeds, bacteria, fungi and viruses.