Robotics is Revolutionizing the World of Agriculture

agricultural robotsRobots specialized in agriculture have been developed by engineers at the University of Illinois in order to automate the heavy labor of farmers. These robots can detect diseased plants, alert other robots of the existence of a pest and get everyone together to fight as a team with the help of satellites. New generations of these robots able to plant and spray. All these technologies will lead to the farm of the future, comparable to houses equipped with all modern technologies, integrated into a single system that regulates everything. After redeeming the services and industrial sector, it seems that robotics finally decides to drive the primary, fundamental for developing countries. By Eduardo Martinez Scientific Trends.

Ingenieros agronomists at the University of Illinois have developed a range of small robots flights (between 150 and $ 500 each) specially designed for agricultural work and replace the bulky and expensive machines that are currently used for planting, spraying, harvesting and plowing.

Today, these little robots only perform tasks of retrieval and transmission of information on the ground in a completely new in the agricultural sector: distributed by acres of land, are able to direct their inquiries, to exchange information with other units and detect epidemics and dangerous insects, warning it to the other robots deployed in the field.

One of these robots looks like something out of the movie “Star Wars” as the R2D2, while others are like little ants than 30 centimeters long, which have the ability to function as an ecosystem, ie, communicate with each other and, as bees do, help each other if necessary.

The main advantage of this generation of robots is that they are small, lightweight and autonomous. The weight is very important because the move does not alter the conditions of the land, contrary to what happens with the current agricultural machines, large and heavy, which affects the environment.

The characteristics of these robots able to collect local information on each plant a crop, which is a huge advantage over traditional monitoring systems, which obtain global information but not close to reality, which in many sometimes prevents early detection problems in crops.

These small robots, in contrast, can detect and transmit real-time complete information of the status of a crop that includes the presence of diseases, weeds, harmful insects and other agricultural incidents. The information may be shared with other robots and robot joint action trigger.

Agricultural robotics, new science
As explained by one of the architects of agricultural robots, E. Tony Grift, in an article published in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Agricultural robotics logic is the proliferation of automation technology applied to bios stems such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and related industries.

At the moment it is only prototype agricultural robots, so its presence in the market will take another few years, according to its creators, who seek to create an experimental farm where all work would make these robots. To achieve this, the next generations of these robots will cover all the tasks of the field, creating a new business model called “farm of the future.”

This first generation is equipped with a camera that detects the weeds, but later these cameras also find plant diseases. The marking of insects and parasites is still only at the project level.

Second generation
The second generation of agricultural robots intended to go further and more complex undertaking agricultural tasks, such as mechanical failure and fumigated ground with the help of GPS, satellite guidance system.

This second generation of robots will also be small, except it is engaged in harvesting, which must be of a size equivalent to that of existing machines, driven directly by man.

The third generation will be part of a larger system to manage a whole farm of the future, with complementary activities to the strictly agricultural, and livestock and business management.

The result of these three stages of penetration of modern technologies in the field is what the architects of this invention called the farm of the future, comparable to houses imagined with all the modern technologies integrated into a single system that regulates everything.

The farm of the future will be managed in its entirety by a computer system that regulates the activity of the robots that take the field with the help of satellites, while aware of the situation of the markets they are targeted crop products and directs the milking of cows, which is done by robots (robots already operating in some countries with proven effectiveness).

The original size is
The idea of applying robots to agriculture is not new, but what is original by the engineers of Illinois is the size of these automata. On the other hand, in Japan and there are some small autonomous robots to adapt to difficult plant rice paddy field.

Similarly, and also within the primary sector, there are robotic experience in aquaculture. The University of New Hampshire United States, for example, develops a proposed offshore aquaculture. In addition, other programs such as the Pacific Ocean Salmon Tracking Project, designed to follow schools of fish with the help of satellites.

In Spain, the National Research Council is also developing research related to autonomous navigation of robots in agriculture.

This shows that the most advanced technologies increasingly penetrate deep into the primary sector, which is almost residual in developed economies but of great importance to developing countries. Robotics, after redeeming the services and industrial sector, it seems that finally decides to drive the primary.

As Well, Robots Can Drive?

In California, the biggest competition for robotic cars has come to an end. Without the driver had ten trolleybuses six hours worth in city traffic. The exercise was primarily the U.S. military – it is looking for new techniques for urban warfare.

robots can driveThis is the Darpa Urban Challenge in California, the world’s largest competition for robot cars. People driving are not provided; the cars must be equipped with radar, laser and video technology to find their own way. Car 13, a fairly even outwardly battered Subaru combination holds, there is obviously a very human strategy: Before I do something wrong, I’d rather do nothing. Interestingly, the other robot cars in total are in the final eleven o’clock at the start, deposited in their software plans to deal with the errors of the number 13. Sebastian Thrun, a professor of computer science and project leader of the team from Stanford University, says: “If after 15 seconds the car, the priority would have is not being driven, drives junior los careful,” Junior is a VW Passat Variant, packed with computer and sensor technology and loaded with the favorites. Two years ago, his predecessor, Stanley, a robotic VW Touareg SUV type, the Challenge has won.

It was at that time but only about a way to reproduce long in the desert while avoiding obstacles, the organizers have tightened the conditions clear. Now the cars are in the city, a total of six hours. The competition will be held at an abandoned military base, there is a ten square kilometer road network with traffic circles and intersections. And an additional eleven of the finalists manned orbit around 50 cars to simulate city traffic. “This is quite a strain,” said Tom Macomber, one of the stuntmen that travel between the robot cars. “You just never know what happens.”

From the outside, nothing much happened. The robots drive cars at intersections approach emphasizes slow, stop a bit jerky and then drive in the style of a learner driver release. Also, car number 13, it has finally considered. Struck twelve minutes, he had stood. Probably he had come to count the other cars mixed up. For in the U.S. is at a crossroads not equal the norm, “right before left”, but “First come, first go” – who first reached the intersection may also continue first. This is often difficult to assess even for people. But robots, which operate without eye contact with each other, then obviously the crash near. As cars approached rolls 13, a second time at the intersection, he travels with the rules and go first, but then makes the middle of the intersection on the brakes and stops about 30 seconds. Later we see him as he is stranded in the driveway of a house. Cart 13 is one of five players who have to.

It’s about war operations
The rules are strict, because behind all the competition is the military. DARPA stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – the research center of the U.S. Army. And project manager Norman Whitaker makes no secret of what it really is at the challenge. “We want to protect people on the battlefield.” Unmanned aerial vehicles for drives, for maintenance, but also wants to develop the Darpa urban warfare, and many of the American teams have no problem with it.

The company Oshkosh Trucks in Wisconsin has about the Martial vehicle, with obvious intention sent into the race, a bright green truck in the Unimog format. Tony Tether, the DARPA director, was of the Terramax called Robo-Truck with 425-horsepower diesel so impressed that he proclaimed over loudspeakers: “The first autonomous vehicle that the Army will ever buy will be very similar to the Terramax. Unfortunately, different from Terramax after only 90 minutes.

For Volkswagen, which supports junior at Stanford University, is the military focus of the Challenge is a problem. Research chief Juergen Leohold: “We always consider whether we can still agree with our objectives. As soon as it were in the competition for any military scenarios, would be for us a clear day. “

The German group, which is directly next to the Stanford University in Palo Alto maintains a research laboratory of electronics, is used to competition for the development of its driver assistance systems: lane departure warning, automatic parking, automatic distance keeping, it is already, the next could Leohold automatic emergency braking with full brake imagine. “We’re here not because we believe in 20 years to build self-propelled cars. But because this is the tip of the science in this field here. “

At the end of the VW Passat comes with the name Junior finished first, but it gains the “Boss”, an imposing Chevrolet Tahoe, the robot controller brings him earlier, after taking account of all imposed penalties for driving error time by about 20 minutes into the goal. Three missions, one is indeed in the military as a guest who have completed six to finally remaining in the race cars, three were the teams five minutes before the start of a USB stick attached, which the route was saved by the Darpa the respective car had prescribed. Waypoint to waypoint had to be shut down, and the two winners saw whenever they went somewhere along, very confident. The Boss of the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, accelerated even more confident, had during the Stanford team’s robotic Passat more to ensure safety and focuses a little bit slower.

All of the cars were limited to a maximum speed of 30 miles (50 km / h), which is only slowly at first glance – after all, they were without a driver or remote control on the move. “When you consider that, even ten miles are very fast,” says Darpa-man Whitaker. “We have learned not to turn off their back.”

Field Robots Conquer Agriculture

Field robots conquer AgricultureThe agricultural sector has developed into a highly technical area of global significance for food, energy and landscape management. Connect the demand for new ideas for technical solutions to the economic benefits with social and environmental impact is great.

A major platform for the development of autonomous robots is the field from the University of Wakening, launched Field Robot Event. Since 2003, the event not only encourages the development of autonomous field robots, but also for interdisciplinary cooperation and knowledge exchange between all parties involved. From the outset, the University of Applied Sciences Innsbruck, which has hosted the competition this year in June? The robot had to be overcome in specially prepared corn field’s different tasks: Navigating in curved rows of corn, including turning process, the detection of foreign bodies in the form of golf balls and the lowering of corn rows presented challenges in extreme conditions dark.

Intelligent assistants what started out as a gadget comes along to satisfy specific needs in the future of agriculture? Where farmers are under price pressure because the demand for Automatis rung is great. In the spirit of effective field treatment, the intelligent assistant could not only eliminate weeds and spreading seed and fertilizer. Ideally, they also recognize the pests of plants and the ripening of the fruit – and all without remote control. In other areas there is a great need for rationalization. “The self-propelled feed mixer technology is a big issue,” says jury member Dr. John Marque ring. Ten teams have taken upon themselves during the competition in the various tasks. The university itself has participated with the team “Agronauten” in the competition. For months, 15 students tinkered under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Arno Ruckelshaus engineering scientists in their robots and programming the necessary software. “In the weeks before the event we worked twelve to 16 hours a day,” says team member Timothy Brenningmeyer. Chances of overall victory settled the other hand, not from Innsbruck: “This going to be the teams from Brunswick and Helsinki this out among themselves,” suggested Brenningmeyer. And he should keep quite: The students from Helsinki to the robot with the simple name “4M” seasoned with a systematic approach and a very good reaction to the mechanics, electronics and software. The group from the Technical University of Braunschweig came with their robot “Helios” and placed behind the Finns on the 2nd Rank. Three years ago the group was founded at the initiative of the University. In 2006, the nine trying for the first time took part in a competition in Hohenheim in Stuttgart. The base of the robot at that time was from a monster truck that was equipped with appropriate sensors, a camera and software. According to a former position in the midfield, the Group won last year’s total victory.

Practical experience various theses of students have been introduced in the further development of Helios. The work on the robot is not only a practical experience, but also an examination of the team members. The Brunswick have used their free time for weeks on the completion of the robot and made many a night into day. “Had breakfast we have lunch in the cafeteria,” says Mark Robert wink. Students in the tenth semester of practical experience in addition to irritate especially the discussions and professional contacts during the event. And they were plentiful during the event, because in the course of the event was also held an exhibition of companies and institutions. For the students an excellent opportunity to position themselves through their work and have time to get close to potential future employers. Not only for students offered the Field Robot Event ways to present practical skills. For the second time the competition was “Field Robot Junior” discharged, which met strong response: A total of 30 student teams had a deployable robot and provided an exciting and entertaining contest. The robot had to follow a course within the course of a white line. The track was completely flat in the first section, while the second section, however, showed uneven and slopes had. The second task required a drive along a by gangs and artificial corn plants limited range. The top two teams won the Kopi-Rob 1 and 2 of Copernicus Gymnasium in Rheine. Third place was shared by the team’s battle cookies and bubble from the Goethe Gymnasium in Hamburg. Some universities presented to the public autonomous robots that have almost reached the stage of mass production. Among them was the Lawnmower Casmobot, which was developed at the University of Southern Denmark. The mower could be used in football stadiums or in parks.

Sustainable Technology In addition to the competitions and demonstrations of knowledge exchange took place between the participating student groups not to short. In a scientific symposium, the participants exchanged on the current state of development. Overall, was present at the Field Robot Event 2008 Lower Saxony much know-how. Both the student groups and the participants at the Field Robot Junior convinced with advanced services.