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 -
Once A Jolly Swagbot Camped By A Billabong
Under the shade of a coolibah tree.
Rowbot Small Autonomous Farm Robot
'...The tiny red glints of self-guided tractors.' - Larry Niven, 1966.
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.
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.
Will A Steel Umbrella Stop Russia?
'Everyone was aware that the damned platform was wandering around in its own orbit...'
EVE Artificial Womb For Lambs (For Now)
'In the crimson darkness, stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones...'
TIKAD Armed Drone Ready To Fight
'Each a television eye and a sonic stunner...'
Bees Royal Jelly Helps Wounds Heal Faster
'An alien drug... used by an insect race.'
NASA Wants To Make Oxygen On Mars
'They plop down on the Red and if the dust is deep enough ... they burrow in...'
Hackers Insert Malware Into DNA
'They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record!'
X2-VelociRoACH Cooperates To Launch Tiny Drones
Little robots cooperating can do big tasks. Eventually.
'Do Not Pay' Chatbots To Replace Law Firm Associates?
'I want my lawyer program.'
MULTI Model Of Star Trek Turbolift
Cool prototype video!
A Look Into The Future Of Spacecraft!
Ever wonder how you look when you enter a new part of a spacecraft?
An 'Ethical Black Box' For Robots?
Explored by science fiction authors.
Dadbot Digital Immortality
'A hardwired ROM cassette replicating a dead man's skills...'
Should We Permit Computers To Create Their Own Language?
'Talk Between Robots radio...'
Breakthrough Starshot Sprites Yearn For Alpha Centauri
'Whoever launched it fired a laser cannon...'
Kino Project Roaming Personal Fashion Robots
'Most of the crew have the tiny imp ride on their shoulder...'
Astronaut Exercise Video, Predicted By SF Writers
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories