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agricultural robotics

by   -   October 29, 2015
Source: Jeff Kubina via Wikimedia Commons
Source: Jeff Kubina via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s an interesting robotics challenge – a coalition of blueberry farmers are offering a $250,000 prize for automation solutions that improve blueberry picking. The deadline for entries in the competition has been extended to December 4, 2015. Apparently farmers can’t keep up with the record high demand for blueberries.

by   -   April 17, 2015
Dry California riverbed. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Dry California riverbed. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Groundwater levels in California’s Central Valley are down to historic lows and reservoirs have been depleted following four consecutive years of severe drought in the state. California is set to introduce water rationing in the coming weeks, and though the new rationing rules will focus on urban areas and not farms for the time being, they serve as a warning bell to farmers who will inevitably need to adapt to the effects of climate change on food production. Long term solutions are needed to help make agriculture drought resistant. How could robotics help?

by   -   January 27, 2015

Farm_SilosOn January 13 the EU announced its list of robotics projects funded under Horizon 2020, the EU funding program for research and innovation. Agriculture is one of four “priority domains” for robotics funding under H2020, and of these newly funded (or refunded) projects, two – Flourish and SWEEPER – are explicitly related to agriculture.

by   -   July 11, 2014

Researchers are forecasting expansion of the agricultural robot market from $817 million in 2013 to an anticipated $16.3 billion by 2020, but farmers have been slow to embrace robotics. Will they do so in time?

interview by   -   May 2, 2014

Link to audio file (27:19)

In this episode, Ron Vanderkley speaks with Professor Peter Corke from Queensland University of Technology, about the fast-tracking research that will see robots planting, weeding, maintaining and harvesting crops. The AgBot is a light-weight, golf buggy-sized robot that has been specifically designed to reduce the environmental impact of weeding.

by   -   March 10, 2014


Keystone Technology’s LED vegetable garden system is a cultivation system for indoor plant factories that uses LED lighting instead of sunlight. The most defining feature of the system on display at the company’s showroom in Yokohama is its 3-dimensional use of space. “This is a 5-tiered cultivation system. For smaller heads of lettuce, you can harvest about 1,500 heads in one month. If this were to be fit into a container of about 20 feet (6m), it would be equivalent to 970 sq. meters. Thus with 16 sq. meters, you could produce an amount that is on par with 970 sq. meters.”

by   -   January 17, 2014

Harvest Automation, a Massachusetts-based start-up, has begun shipping their robots. After five years and an A, B and C round of equity funding, plus some debt, totalling almost $25 million, their HV-100 mobile robots are finally coming to market. 

by   -   July 15, 2013

Over the last few years, there has been increasing talk about the potential of agriculture as a market for robotics. Speaking about future markets for unmanned aerial systems in a recent presentation at Maker Faire, DIY Drones founder and CEO of 3D Robotics Chris Anderson characterized agriculture as the “biggest economic potential with the lowest regulatory barriers,” and talked about the important role they can play in supplying much needed data to farmers, stating that “agriculture is a big data problem without the big data.”

by   -   February 2, 2013

Mel Torrie of Autonomous Solutions

As guest speaker for a CMURobotics RI Seminar, titled Lessons Learned Bootstrapping a Robotic Vehicle Company, Mel Torrie of Autonomous Solutions (Petersboro, Utah), describes how he got into robotics in the first place, why he made the jump from academia to a startup, how that startup survived their “near-death experience”, what the company has been doing since, and what he’s learned along the way. There is a strong agricultural theme, both in his original motivation and in the history and current operation of Autonomous Solutions.

View on YouTube

Mel Torrie was recently interviewed by Robots Podcast

by   -   January 6, 2013

photo of David Gardner

Together with Professor Maurice Maloney, Director of Rothamsted Research, David Gardner, CEO of The Royal Agricultural Society of England, speaking with Charlotte Smith of the BBC R4’s Farming Today, for the January 5th edition of Farming Today This Week, covering the 2013 Oxford Farming Conference (held Jan. 2nd-4th on the campus of Oxford University), had this to say on the morning of the last day of the conference:

I think engineering has a huge amount to offer. We’ve seen a huge growth in the last decade or so in terms of precision farming on arable farms, so the whole concept of measuring in detail what we are doing on an individual field basis, and indeed within parts of fields, that gives us the opportunity firstly to reduce inputs, so for example we can identify which parts of the field need particular fertilizer, and just applying them to that part of the field. We can identify which parts of the field need particular weed killers and apply them just to that part of the field, rather than applying them to the field as a whole. And today I’m going to talk, and it will be quite controversial at the conference, I think, but I’m going to talk about relatively small, light-weight gantries that are autonomous, that don’t have a driver on them.

by   -   December 23, 2012

On using robots to make gardening scalable to millions of acres…

You might wonder why I want to turn land management over to robots. Is it because I’m such a geek that I think everything goes better with robots? No, not really. Sure, I think the technology is cool, but I’m not eager to factor human beings altogether out of any activity, not even those that are dull, dirty, and/or dangerous.

I am, however, eager to see the benefits of replacing methods designed to spread a human operator’s time as thinly as possible with methods which reintroduce attention to detail to plant cultivation. Granted, that attention would, for the most part, be provided by robotic sensors, processors, and algorithms, but that has an upside as well as a downside.

Looney the Robot
January 23, 2015

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