AgBots: Agricultural Robots Take The Field
In one memorable scene from the original Star Wars movie, Luke Skywalker's Uncle Owen is bargaining for agricultural robots with Jawas. Agriculture has been slow to adopt to robotic technology; however, some new developments are on the horizon.
(From Demeter - National Robotics Engineering Consortium)
For example, the Demeter automated harvester provides the following functionality:
The final step, providing fully autonomous operation, is currently under development. The Demeter project uses off-the-shelf technologies to provide an average guidance accuracy of +/- 3 centimeters.
- A "cruise-control" feature, which allows the operator to give control over to the harvester itself for short periods
- A "drone" feature, which allows one operator to remotely control several harvesters at once
At the other end of the size spectrum, University of Illinois agricultural engineers are working on robots ("ag robots") small enough to walk in the rows between plants, scouting for weeds and insects, and taking soil tests. These small (approximately one foot long) robots could do the work now tediously done with human-piloted tractors.
"Who needs 500 horsepower to go through the field when you might as well put a few robots out there that communicate with each other like an army of ants, working the entire field and collecting data?"
(Tony Grift, UI agricultural engineer)
Some of the current approaches:
- "Ag Ant", an inexpensive foot-long bot that works cooperatively
- Robots using laser guidance systems to maintain a straight path
- Robots that use ultrasonic sensors that weave from plant to plant
This approach could dispense with many current practices in agriculture, in which entire fields are sprayed with pesticides or other agents. Instead, small robots could administer small doses at the point where they are needed.
Science fiction buffs remember R2D2 and C3PO, of course; but although these robots were purchased for agricultural use, that was not their primary function (as C3PO might put it). The robot gardening crab from William Gibson's 1984 novel Neuromancer is a good example of an elegantly functional "ag robot."
Demeter and University of Illinois creates robot farmers for more information. Watch a short video of Demeter harvesting here.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/6/2004)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Vertical Farms? Still Waiting, But Concepts Abound
'Stacked up to the sky...' - Pohl and Kornbluth, 1951.
Ladybird Agricultural Robot Is Solar-Powered
'A robot gardener worked over the same patch of grass again and again...'- Philip K Dick, 1955.
Vertical Farms Have Advantages
'Like the office In-and-Out baskets stacked up to the sky...'- Pohl and Kornbluth, 1952.
Lettuce-Bot Weed-Killing Robot Funded
A new alternative to labor-intensive farming techniques.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Turing's Nose - Was That Scent Real Or Artificial?
'Rippling arpeggios of thyme and lavender...'
Xian'er Buddhist Monk Robot
'Getting to his feet he crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth...'
AnBot Security Robot WILL Tase You, Bro
Michael Crichton right again.
Hover Camera - Unfold Drone, Shoot Selfie
'He set his camera to follow him...'
A Baker's Dozen Of Autonomous Car-Related Revolutions
'Old people began to cross the continent in their own cars.'
Would You Date A Robot? 1 in 4 Say 'Yes'!
'My hands touched a great keyboard, whence, perfect through long practice, I could direct lifelike motion.'
Sophia, The Personable Robot From Hanson Robotics.
'The de luxe model... has fifty different facial expressions...'
Swimming, Slithering Snake Robot
John Connor, how do you feel about swimming snakes?
The First 'Drone Cafe' Started By Dutch Students
'It was a smooth ovoid floating a few inches from the floor...'
Astronaut Tim Peake Completes Space Marathon
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses...'
Aerojet Rocketdyne 'Ion Drive' To Reach The Asteroids? (Update!)
'It has its own ion drive...'
Beatie Wolfe's Album Is A Deck Of NFC Cards
'The greater trumps ready to step right out through those glistening surfaces.'
Is Social Media Saving Space Travel?
'Officially, they were delighted to share their experiences with the public.'
iBubble Scuba Drone Follower
'Hovered behind him like a large tame bee...'
Ironing Robot May Fulfill Russian Science Fiction Dreams
Sometimes, the old inventions are the best.
Organic Photonic Skin Display
'A strip of readout skin on my wrist...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories