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cultibotics

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.

by   -   July 30, 2012

We industrialized our agricultural firms, consolidating them into multinational, billion dollar publicly traded corporations. As a result, they no longer have nutritional responsibility, they have fiduciary responsibility. And that fiduciary responsibility makes them not create healthy calories, but cheap, popular ones.

by   -   July 15, 2012

LED lights are far more efficient than incandescents, but enough light to drive photosynthesis will still require significant power, so one still might ask where the power is going to come from.

by   -   July 5, 2012

 

In case you’ve forgotten, this video provides a clear explanation of the concept behind and the mechanical workings of the TE+ND Rover.

 

For more, check out their page on the competition website. You can vote using either a Facebook ID or email address.

 

Oh, by the way, Prospero is also a contestant.

by   -   July 5, 2012

 

The first video in this playlist is a presentation given last year at the announcement of the event. The rest were taken at the event itself, and show the nature of the competition as well as something of the level of sophistication of the competitors.

by   -   June 28, 2012

This year’s Field Robot Event (FRE 2012) began today and runs through Saturday. I will bring together what reports I am able to find once the dust settles, but meanwhile you can view videos from past years’ events by entering “Field Robot Event” in YouTube’s search field.

by   -   June 16, 2012

 

University of Colorado Assistant Professor Nikolaus Correll, speaking at TEDx Front Range earlier this year, outlined his vision for transforming agriculture through robotic cultivation.

 

(Correll Lab at the University of Colorado)

by   -   June 16, 2012

 

This will be the 10th edition of the Field Robot Event. Organized by Fontys University of Applied Sciences and Wageningen UR (University & Research), it will be held in Venlo, The Netherlands, on the grounds of Floriade 2012.

 

(PDF of slides from above presentation video about the 2012 Field Robot Event)

by   -   April 16, 2012

A press release issued by the European Robotics Platform website regarding agricultural robotics as a presence at the European Robotics Forum 2012 makes plain not only that there is a significant level of agricultural robotics activity in Europe but also that it is driven by a vision very similar to that outlined here. Recommended reading!

by   -   March 25, 2012

 

More information available here and here.

by   -   March 5, 2012

Something that would help move the work on robotic sensors and manipulators for agriculture forward would be an affordable, robust platform on which they could be mounted and transported through a field. It seems to me that self-propelled sprayers with high clearance and adjustable track widths, intended for row crop operation, offer the best model for such a platform.

 

Here’s just a few examples: ALPHA Evo, AMAZONE Pantera, AGCO SpraCoupe, and a selection of sprayers from Agrifac.

 

Note that these machines are not built for traction, but to suspend a load high enough that it doesn’t interfere with crops. This and the adjustable track width is why, taken together as a class of machines, they make a good model for a robotics platform.

 

Ideally, only the frame and running gear from one of these designs would be used. To that add a transverse beam (gantry) along which suspended robotic modules can move sideways, mounted far enough above the ground surface to make room for the modules and to avoid interference with the crops.

by   -   January 9, 2012

On a web page describing their current efforts in agricultural robotics, CSIRO ICT Centre describes the focus area this way:

The application of field robotics to agriculture is an emerging area of interest for our researchers. The increasing demands on our agricultural sector are forcing farmers to consider robotic assistance where before they worked alone. In recent years GPS guided tractors have become commercially available and are now seen commonly in many countries in the world. These systems still rely on the farmer to supervise them – normally from tractor’s cab. It is hoped that the next generation of farm robots will be more aware of their immediate surroundings and will be capable of mapping obstacles and navigating autonomously. Unlike field robotics in other domains such as mining or the military (where safety and the removal of people from hazardous situations is a major driver), agricultural robotics will only make sense when the business case means that using robots will save money when compared to farming in a traditional manner.

by   -   December 16, 2011

 

The concept of Integrated Pest Management has been around for several decades, and is just as useful in a robotic, no-till scenario as it is combined with conventional, traction-based agriculture, perhaps even more so. In a nutshell, it’s about the inclusion of biological controls in a mix of methods that can also include mechanical and chemical controls. The use of barn owls in this video is an excellent example.