Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Of I robots go solar; new system could drastically reduce herbicide use

12.10.2006
A solar-powered robot with 20/20 vision, on a search-and-destroy quest for weeds, will soon be moving up and down the crop rows at the experimental fields at the University of Illinois. What's more, this robot has the potential to control weeds while significantly reducing herbicide use.

The robot uses GPS for navigation, and there are two small cameras mounted on a frame on top of the machine to give the robot depth perception, just like a human, said Lei Tian, agricultural engineer at the U of I. "If he sees a weed, he can actually tell how far away it is."

An on-board computer offers access to information that provides the morphological features of plants, to help the robot determine just what is and isn't a weed. Once a weed is identified, a robotic arm attached to the front of the machine engages a device the researcher calls "a custom-designed end effector."

There are two layers to the device, according to Tian. One layer cuts the weed, while the second layer applies herbicide to the cut weed.

"This type of application is extremely effective," said Tian, "because it applies herbicide directly to the plant, instead of broadcasting uniform rates across a field."

With this level of precision, Tian says the system has clear environmental benefits. In addition to cutting herbicide use, chemicals do not drift off-target when placed directly on the plants.

The original inspiration for this robot came several years ago, when Tian and two graduate students were working on remote sensing systems for a CFAR (Council on Food and Agricultural Research) project.

"We were collecting field data from satellite imagery, such as soil moisture and plant conditions, but we needed to have ground reference data to validate that information," said Tian.

"But that kind of data is tedious to collect," he continued, "and it's very hot work. The grad students who collected this information stayed in the field most of the day, and one of them was fainting from the heat."

At the time, Tian was working on a robot that could go into the field and continuously collect data, but the battery that powered the system required charging about every two hours.

"So I thought, what if we had a system that could collect data, but could also convert the heat of the sun into an energy source?" said Tian. "We could replace the grad student worker with this robotic system."

That system evolved into today's model, and two different grad students worked with Tian to present a paper on the robot at the Annual International Meeting of Agricultural and Biological Engineers this July in Portland, Oregon.

Hong Young Jeon, a PhD candidate in agricultural and biological engineering, and Nathanael Gingrich, a master's student, have worked steadily on the system design that cuts the weed and applies herbicide. They have also mounted the curved solar panel that powers the robot.

"We custom-built a shelf that holds the solar panel," said Gingrich. "It also protects the machine from weather and gives it shade for its vision system."

Although the robot is equipped with ultrasonic sensors that go all the way around the machine, "we're going to try and use only the camera vision for navigation," said Jeon, "which makes it a lot more difficult."

The robot stands a little more than two feet tall, is 28 inches wide and almost five feet long. He can travel about three miles per hour and moves on wheels, although the researchers have treads they can put on him as well, to give him more grip.

At the current stage, the robot is used to combat weed infestation, but in the future, Gingrich and Jeon hope to place different sensors and cameras on the robotic arm that would be used to judge soil properties or plant conditions.

"It has a full-blown Windows computer with an 80-gigabyte hard drive and a wireless connection to the Internet," said Gingrich, "so the amount of information we can collect is virtually unlimited."

Leanne Lucas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uiuc.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Microjet generator for highly viscous fluids
13.02.2018 | Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology

nachricht Sweet route to greater yields
08.02.2018 | Rothamsted Research

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>