Ro­botic tri­als her­ald a game-changer for ag

Australian Farmers & Dealers Journal - - NEWS -

NEW re­search re­leased by The Bos­ton Con­sult­ing Group (BCG) is pre­dict­ing that ad­vanced ro­bot­ics will boost pro­duc­tiv­ity by up to 30 per cent in many in­dus­tries by 2025. Al­though in­dus­trial ro­bots have been used in fac­to­ries for decades, the use of ad­vanced ro­bots and au­to­ma­tion is now re­shap­ing how we grow and har­vest the world's food and fi­bre. Bon­ing in meat­works has al­ready been au­to­mated and ro­botic milk­ing sys­tems are grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity, eas­ing staff work­loads and lift­ing milk pro­duc­tion. Ro­bots are in­creas­ingly be­ing used for tasks like weed man­age­ment, fer­til­is­ing and seed­ing. It seems now that the use of mul­ti­ple co­op­er­a­tive highly-au­ton­o­mous farm vehicles could lead to the next step in agri­cul­tural au­to­ma­tion. Un­manned trac­tors, an on-farm ver­sion of Google's driver­less car, are now been tri­alled in Aus­tralia. The trac­tor is guided by GPS sig­nals and tri­als by Rice Re­search Aus­tralia, and their Ja­panese part­ners, have been suc­cess­ful in keep­ing the trac­tor to within 3-cen­time­tre ac­cu­racy. The spe­cialised satel­lite sys­tem also pro­vides use­ful data like en­gine tem­per­a­ture and fuel us­age to the op­er­a­tor. In New Zealand, Auckland Univer­sity and Robotic­sPlus are de­vel­op­ing an ‘Au­ton­o­mous Mul­ti­pur­pose Mo­bile Plat­form' (AMMP) mod­u­lar ro­bot to op­er­ate au­tonomously in or­chards. Whether it is pre­ci­sion spray­ing ki­wifruit or pick­ing ap­ples, mod­ules like vi­sion sen­sors, arms and grip­pers will be de­signed to be added or re­moved from the unit de­pend­ing on the ap­pli­ca­tion. US-based Bos­ton Dy­nam­ics, which was ac­quired by Google in 2013, has been at the lead­ing edge of en­gi­neer­ing and ro­bot­ics de­sign for some time now. Bos­ton Dy­nam­ics are de­vel­op­ing quadrupedal ro­bots that look and walk like chee­tahs and dogs. Orig­i­nally de­vel­oped for the United States mil­i­tary, these four-legged ro­bots are re­defin­ing how ma­chin­ery can move across rugged ter­rain. While wheeled and tracked vehicles still have a strong fu­ture, it's not hard to see how this tech­nol­ogy will be used by farm­ers in the fu­ture. Bos­ton Dy­nam­ics, Rice Re­search Aus­tralia and Auckland Univer­sity will all pre­sented ro­bot­ics tech­nol­ogy at the re­cent Mo­bileTECH 2015 event se­ries, which was held at Auckland and on the Gold Coast. The se­ries pro­filed ad­vances in ro­bot­ics, au­to­ma­tion and the in­creas­ing use of UAVs or re­motely pi­loted air­craft. Pro­gram man­ager for Con­nex Event In­no­va­tors, Ken Wil­son, said Mo­bileTech2015 aimed to pro­file in­no­va­tive new tech­nol­ogy and demon­strate how it's be­ing used, while dis­cussing op­er­a­tionally and fi­nan­cially just what it has meant to the early adopters. “The tech­nolo­gies been ap­plied in man­u­fac­tur­ing or op­er­a­tionally within the agri­cul­tural, hor­ti­cul­tural, forestry, fish­eries or grain in­dus­tries more of­ten than not are able to be repli­cated across the pri­mary sec­tor,” Mr Wil­son said. “Mo­bileTECH 2015 is one of few tech­nol­ogy events where the de­vel­op­ers, re­searchers and end-users can come to­gether to dis­cuss new in­no­va­tions, op­por­tu­ni­ties for col­lab­o­ra­tion and the real re­sults from early adop­tion.”

Un­manned trac­tors are now been tri­alled in Aus­tralia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.