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 (Back On) ( 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.
MIT Robot Cheetah Video Shows Gait Transition
'The legs are long, curled way up to deliver power, like a cheetah's.'
TrackingPoint Smart Rifle
Not your typical 'smart bullet' approach.
'Hello, Computer!' Google Now Highlighted at IO13
Sky City's 220 Stories Are Go
'It rested among green parklands and... stood in total isolation, a glittering block of whites and flashing windows dotted with colors.'
CARMAT Bioprosthetic Total Human Heart Replacement
'George Walt's corporate existence proved the workability of wholly mechanical organs...'
Personal Sniffer Robots
'...The ticking combinations of the olfactory system of the hound.'
Physical Exam? We've Got Apps
See the future of handheld, personal medical devices.
The Interplanetary Internet, Vint Cerf Speaking
'This was the center of Interplanetary Communications.'
Drosophila Robotica, The Mechanical Fly
'... the Scarab [flying robot] buzzed into the great workroom as any intruding insect might...'
Robo-Raven Flapping Wing Robot Bird
'When he had first built them, they had been crude indeed, flying mechanisms with little more than a reflex-response unit.'
Japan's Nursing Home Robot Plan
Let's make the Roujin Z-0001 Robotic Bed!
Samsung Smart TVs With Gesture Control
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.'
Swiss HCPVT Giant Photovoltaic 'Flower'
'...leaning against one of the slender stalks of a sunshade-photocell collector.'
Mini-Livers Made By 3D Printer
Organleggers may experience an employment downturn.
Smartphone Sensor System Tracks Gunfire
'Sound trackers on the roof could zero in on weapons action...'
Bacteria Now Make Biofuel Like Oil
'They have ... germs that eat pretty near anything, and produce oil as a waste product.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories