Multipurpose agricultural robot to offer farmers a helping hand
Image credit: University of Lincoln
An agricultural robot designed to autonomously carry out a variety of farming-related activities could significantly boost productivity in the industry, according to its creators at the University of Lincoln.
Dubbed ‘Thorvald’, the robot was designed to be used for a number of different tasks including deployment as a multi-purpose light weight robotic carrying platform, as a sensor platform to monitor crops and soils and, potentially, as a platform to manage crops and for precision weed control.
It is capable of operating on uneven terrain and is agile enough to navigate between rows of crops without touching plants.
Professor Simon Pearson, director of Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology (LIAT), said: “In much of our agri-tech research, the fields we use are our laboratory, which brings its own technical and logistical challenges with certain experiments.
“The Thorvald robot will be a welcome addition to LIAT - in effect our own roaming, robotic lab assistant - capable of supporting a wide variety of research activities. The robot will support research on autonomous outdoor navigation and mapping, soil quality assessment, crop yield prediction, in-field logistics and transportation.”
The UK has put a lot of money and research into the fast growing agri-tech sector, as global challenges such as rising population, shortages of land, water and energy require better and more reliable production of food.
The agri-tech industry is already worth around £14bn to the UK economy and employs more than half a million people according to the University of Lincoln.
A highly mobile weed-picking robot was demonstrated by a team in February.