Robotics and Autonomous Systems - Robotică și agricultură de precizie

Sumar din partea echipei AGRIM:

Newsletter-ul acesta pe tema automatizării rezumă eforturile unor cercetători britanici de a crea roboți de talie mică pentru a face lucrările în teren, înlocuind tractoarele și agregatele mari. Roboții mai mici, dar mai „atenți” și deștepți pot să facă operațiuni la o scară mai mică, chiar la nivel de plantă individuală (agricultură de precizie). Lucrările la această scară imită potențialul operațiunilor manuale, adică permit folosirea tehnologiilor și a inputurilor doar unde acestea sunt necesare, scăzând astfel consumul de inputuri, poluarea aferentă și impactul negativ asupra solurilor. Compania „Small Robot Co.” estimează câștiguri de până la 10x mai mari per hectar, mai ales pentru culturile de cereale, iar produsele lor sunt oferite prin servicii cu abonament.

Video: Echipa discută despre un robot care poate distruge buruieni automat, chiar fără erbicide


The Small Robot Company

The Small Robot Company was founded based on an idea of Professor Blackmore from Harper Adams University in England, where lightweight and smart robots would replace big tractors in the fields and as farm profitability was going down and the industry was not using the advantages of digitalisation.

The founders believe that farming should be digital and data driven. The biggest problem, however, is that the population is growing while yields are stagnating and the amount of arable land is used to the maximum.

This is why they decided to develop small robots to replace massive and heavy equipment that compacts the soil and pollutes the countryside. The robots use much less energy and do the seeding, feeding and weeding of the crops. They work together and each of the robots can analyse and care for an individual plant, thus reducing inputs drastically. They deploy artificial intelligence to allow farmers to consider the latest agronomy, market conditions and soil science data when making decisions.

Helping farmers feed the world while regenerating the planet – Per plant farming.

  • To understand and act on each individual plant

  • To remove all excess inputs and energy from farming

  • To create a sustainable, scalable regenerative farming system

The Small Robot Company’s vision is to replace tractor-based practices by per plant farming enabled by small robots. They say that it is cheaper, more sustainable and delivers 10x greater value per hectare.

This is needed as cereal farming is in trouble due to increased costs with stagnating yields, increased resistance of weeds, massive loss of global topsoil due to intensive farming, soil compaction and as farms are not profitable without subsidies in many countries.

They offer a subscription model to farmers by delivering Per Plant Farming through their platform of autonomous farming specialists – robots called Tom, Dick, and Harry. Tom monitors and optimises. Dick does weed and pest control and Harry does the planting. Wilma is their Artificial Intelligence (AI) Engine providing insight for farmers and agronomists.

Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) are set to transform global industries. These technologies will have a great impact on large sectors of the economy with relatively low productivity such as Agri-Food (food production from the farm through to manufacturing and retail shelf). Technology adoption is likely to occur in measured steps. Most farmers and food producers will need technologies that can be introduced gradually, alongside and within their existing production systems. Thus, for the foreseeable future, humans and robots will frequently operate collaboratively to perform tasks, and that collaboration must be safe. There will be a transition period in which humans and robots work together as first simple and then more complex parts of work are conducted by robots, driving productivity and enabling human jobs to move up the value chain.

(UK-RAS White papers).

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