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.
China Melts Tibetan Permafrost To Plant Forest
'Can you give us a microwave spotlight?'
iFlytek Doctor Robot First To Pass Medical Exams
Doctor shortage? No problem, we'll just use the autodoc.
Slaughterbot AI KIller Quadcopter Drones
'The real border was defended by... a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats.'
Do We Really Want Backflipping Robots?
Also includes wonderful blooper reel.
RNA-Based Biocomputing Device
Living things can sense and analyze complex signals in living cells.
Seasteading Floating Cities
'It was a remarkable island, circular, about half a kilometer in diameter.'
Tesla Semi 'Electrotruck' Unveiled
Elon Musk unveils yet another technological marvel.
Watch What People Are Seeing Via Brain Scanning
'had managed to see through the other man's eyes as the other man, all unaware, washed their Zis limousine sixteen hundred meters away...'
Integrated Circuits Printed Right Onto Fabric!
'...a shirt that displayed email on its sleeve.
Interstellar Asteroid Visits Our Solar System
'This asteroid had whirled in from the cold of the interplanetary space...'
PRIMA Bionic Vision Restoration
'The VISOR... was a medical device used in the Federation to aid patients who have suffered loss of eyesight...'
Audi Traffic Jam Pilot Knows If You're Sleeping
'Even here, riding a garbage truck to eternity, the machine watched him...'
UM Hall Thruster Breaks Records
Someday, we'll see an ion drive used to get to Mars.
Ionity Ultra-fast Charging Station Network
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'
VAuth Voice Security Wearable From University of Michigan
'Siri, I gave you a voice command...' 'Yes, but do I know you?'
Ubiquiti FrontRow Camera Records Your Life
Why be choosy? Just upload your whole life to the Internet, and be done with it.
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories