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 -
Lettuce-Bot Weed-Killing Robot Funded
A new alternative to labor-intensive farming techniques.
Detroit's Urban Agriculture Ordinance
'The survivors tore up the metal plating and sold it... for seed and cattle.'-Isaac Asimov, 1951.
Prospero, Robotic Farmer
Fascinating new approach to the idea of mechanized agriculture.
Robotic Lettuce Farm Has Green Thumb
Automated farms take most of the back-breaking work out of growing lettuce.
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.
Bookies Let You Place Your Bets On the Future!
Put your money where your mouth is, sf fans!
How Do Americans See The Future Of Technology?
Do you want to participate in the future?
Flying Graffiti Drone Will Alter The Urban Landscape
The tagger's dream - lie in bed while painting at a remote location.
Should Autonomous Cars Have Feelings About Crashes?
'Robots have worse problems than anybody.'
M-Block Modular Robots Assemble Themselves
'... as though a child should build from nursery blocks a fantastic shape which abruptly is filled with throbbing life.'
Augmented Reality Ship's Bridge From Rolls Royce
'... the immense, three-dimensional, minutely cubed model...'
Artificial Blood From Factories
This blood's for you.
Wrigley's Anti-Impotence Chewing Gum
'Chew one of these, Mr. Chip.'
Arcology Now Universal Constructor
'... the hotel direly wanted to exist.'
MisTable Fog Display Like SeaQuest DSV
Captain Bridger, a message is coming in.
Full-Size Invisibility Cloak Now Possible
'I donned it and drew its hood, and threw on its current.'
Bioengineered Muscle Grows In Mice
'Joeboys... shoulders bulging with grafted muscle.'
Self-Assembling Nanoparticles Move Like Tiny Gears
'Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically...'
PredPol Predicting Crime As It Happens
'All day long the idiots babbled...'
UK Internet Filters Default To 'Family-Friendly'
'People bought personalized filter programs...'
NASA Gives Away Rocket Code - For Dads
'The rocket thundered and leaped. The children danced in their hammocks, screaming.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories