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Gardening robot developed to automatically prune and trim bushes

A gardening robot has been developed by a team at the University of Edinburgh that can self-navigate and automatically prune roses and trim bushes.

The 'Trimbot' uses cameras and 3D mapping technology to find its way around the garden and perform horticultural tasks with its advanced cutting tools.

The developers fitted five pairs of cameras and a flexible robotic arm to an automated lawnmower, made by electronics company Bosch.

The battery powered device is pre-programmed with a rough outline of the garden in question to aid navigation. Data captured by the robot's 3D cameras enable it to perform specific tasks.

Algorithms were created that enable the robot to compare overgrown bushes with ideal final shapes as it trims and it can prune roses by pinpointing the exact part of each plant’s stem that should be cut.

The researchers said prototypes could be used to maintain communal green spaces, support farmers and help people with mobility issues tend their gardens.

Professor Bob Fisher, from the university’s School of Informatics, said: “Getting the robot to work reliably in a real garden was a major feat of engineering. The eight partner teams developed new robotics and 3D computer vision technology to enable it to work outdoors in changing lighting and environmental conditions.”

The four-year project was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme and involved scientists from Bosch and universities in the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland.

In 2017, researchers demonstrated a weatherproof, solar-powered robot, the 'Tertill' (pronounced ‘turtle’), which patrols gardens and kills weeds without the use of pesticides.

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