An intelligent farm robot for the vegetable industry (VG12104)
What was it all about?
This project developed and demonstrated the Ladybird Farm Robot, a lightweight solar-electric robot, that uses intelligent perception to guide its activities. It can conduct surveillance in the field, including mapping seedlings and detecting and mapping vegetation to measure leafy crops and has a robotic arm that can deliver chemicals in liquid and particulate form to crops, weeds or pests.
Researchers developed software that allowed the robot to distinguish individual crops, segment out the ground from the crop, and to distinguish crops from weeds. It was tested on a number of vegetable crops including spinach, corn, onions and beetroot.
In an extension to the project, a pre-production version of the robotic system was developed, which has the ability to identify and shoot at targets when stationary. This system is named RIPPA (Robot for Intelligent Perception and Precision Application).
The system used for detecting and shooting targets, VIIPATM (Variable Injection Intelligent Precision Applicator) can be mounted onto the RIPPA robot.
This work included a series of experiments to refine the application system, including tests on a working farm.
The project showed how modular low-cost technologies can be used together to automate row crop horticulture. The system will continue to be developed to give the robot real-time decision-making capacity.
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This project was a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund