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Research & Innovation

Farmers should get robots working for them

A different take on harvesters: researchers at the University of Illinois, USA have developed a robot which measures the condition, size and biomass of arable crops on the field directly in order to determine the optimal harvesting time.

03 Apr. 2018 Dirk Bongardt
Source: L. Brian Stauffer
Source: L. Brian Stauffer

"TerraSentia" is the name that the developers have given the robot that will collect precise information on farmland and fields in the future. The robot rolls out into open land on four wheels, either autonomously or as instructed by the user, and acquires an overview of the condition of the plants for the farmer, with the aid of a camera and other sensors. TerraSentia transmits the results to the user’s smart phone or laptop in real time. Weighing in at only around 11 kg the robot can, according to the developer information, even roll over seedlings without damaging them. With its software still in the development process, TerraSentia will even be able to recognize plant diseases at a later date.

Digitalization is also playing an increasingly important role in European agriculture. Drone manufacturer Parrot has a system on offer which, similarly to TerraSentia, provides the farmer with information about his crops, in this case on the basis of aerial photographs. Systems for recording cultivated fields and animal health systems are also already in use.