The Earth Rover ‘farmer’ who never stops, come rain or shine (and he’s a whizz at weeding!)
IT CAN zap weeds with lasers and harvest crops with ease.
Hailed as the potential saviour of the farming industry, Earth Rover is a robot device designed by the scientists responsible for a Mars Rover project.
Thanks to cutting-edge optical imaging and 3D camera technology, Earth Rover prototypes have successfully monitored individual crops, spotting diseases and determining when they are ready to be picked.
The Rover, which is about a year away from being rolled out to farms in Britain, will also be equipped with lasers to destroy weeds and intelligent plant recognition technology to make sure it does not damage valuable crops.
Its onboard computer will also enable it to perform ‘selective harvesting’, ensuring crops are picked at precisely the moment that they are fully grown.
The British company behind the project, also named Earth Rover, is working with Harper Adams agricultural university and RAL Space Autonomous Systems Group, which designed the ExoMars rover – a European Space Agency robot due to land on the Red Planet in 2020.
The device is currently completing field trials at Pollybell Organic Farm in Doncaster and the farm’s finance director, James Brown, is optimistic that the technology can offer farmers a bright future.
He said a fleet of six Earth Rovers armed with artificial intelligence technology enabling them to communicate with one another would do more work than 200 farmhands.
‘Weeding and picking crops is hard work and one of those jobs that is ripe for automation,’ Mr Brown said.
Paul Harter, chief technology officer for Earth Rover, added: ‘This is the future of farming... ‘Earth Rover is informed by space technology but these robots are very simple and userfriendly.’
ON A ROLL: Earth Rover tends a field, top, and the ExoMars, above