Farm equipment in the future might very well resemble the robot R2D2 of Star Wars fame. But instead of careening through a galaxy far, far away, these ag robots might be wobbling down a corn row, scouting for insects, blasting weeds and taking soil tests.
University of Illinois agricultural engineers have developed several ag robots, one of which actually resembles R2D2, except that its square instead of round. The robots are completely autonomous, directing themselves down corn rows, turning at the end and then moving down the next row, said Tony Grift, an agricultural engineer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The long-term goal, he said, is for these small, inexpensive robots to take on some of the duties now performed by large, expensive farm equipment. As Grift asked, "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?"
He said its all part of the "smaller and smarter" approach.
Doug Peterson | EurekAlert!
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