Most people imagine robots at work in a factory, but there’s no less innovation going on at the farm—take this spoke-wheeled robot plant nurse who can inspect 50 acres of row crops for disease, pests, or other issues.
Trundling through fields a little like a tumbleweed, the SentiV scouting robot is currently just a prototype, but its designers hope that the high unit cost can be offset with savings on pesticides and fertilizer, as the SentiV can determine exactly which plants need what.
Planting is a seriously stressful time for farmers, as all the input costs stack up while profit lies far away in the distant months. Furthermore, many things can go wrong between planting and harvest time, whether that’s a sudden outbreak of disease, pests moving into the area, or a proliferation of weeds.
Manually inspecting crops can take hours while airborne drones can’t see under the leaves.
That’s why a 33-pound robot that moves about on spokes rather than wheels or treads which crush plants could be ideal for farmers looking to reduce labor costs and hours.
Placing the GPS coordinates of the field’s boundaries, the SentiV then uses these boundaries as a guide to map the whole field—up to 50 acres in a day, scanning both the underside and topside of plants with a pair of cameras.
Smart algorithms then look for threats, monitor the plants’ growth, and identify signs that the plant might need more or less water or nutrients.
The wheel height is easily adjustable to make sure it passes over a farmer’s crops without damaging them.
The nearly timeless image of a field of crops being worked by farmers and animals is soon going to look a lot different, as robots of all different sizes are being developed to phase out extensive labor and materials costs on farms.
WATCH the little fellow at work…
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