Meet SwagBot – our latest farming robot. SwagBot proved successful in its first field test. SwagBot successfully demonstrated the ability to operate in the rugged cattle station environment. Future trials will focus on applying research toward autonomous farm activities including monitoring and interacting with plants and animals.
Mary O'Kane reflects on Trends to inform smart choices in the June edition of FOCUS. (See pages 11-13)
New Scientist video featuring ACFR robots.
Salah Sukkarieh will be presenting the latest Farms of the Future work from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, at The Science & Research Breakfast Seminar hosted by The NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane, on Wednesday 11 May 2016. Details of the invitation are attached:
Members of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture and Industry visited the ACFR technical laboratory on 14 April 2016, to hear about the latest innovations around robotics in agriculture. The committee were briefed on the current research and how it is directly related to aiding farmers and growers, such as sensory and imaging processes to improve apple growing, the RIPPA robot which can target and destroy weeds in crops, and UAVs for identifying problem weeds in the Australian outback. This visit was part of the federal parliament public hearing on agricultural innovation. More information about the hearing can be found at http://sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2016/04/12/federal-parliament-public-hearing-on-agricultural-innovation-at-.html
On April 6th 2016 RIPPA ran its first endurance trial and completed almost 22 hours of continuous operation using only battery and solar power. This was a major accomplishment and testament that the RIPPA design and ACFR Ag robots are focused on being a real solution to the farmer. The run began at 0530, 1 hour before sunrise and completed at 0317 the next morning, 9 hours after sunset. For the duration, RIPPA roved autonomously up and down the spinach crop rows imaging the leaves. RIPPA then waited until solar sufficiently charged the batteries and at 1000 it began where it left off and continued roving up and down the rows. The irrigation created muddy and uneven terrain at the row ends, which was no problem for RIPPA as you can see in the video. A fantastic effort from the ACFR team.
Thanks to Horticulture Innovation Australia and to Ed Fagan for hosting and supporting us at his farm.
A new three year program of high tech R&D for orchard management has begun, with the use of our Shrimp robot to acquire data from mango, avocado and macadamia orchards.
The data includes lidar, vision, thermal, hyperspectral, soil conductivity and natural gamma, demonstrating that there are many ways to view the humble tree:
RIPPA has just had its first ever field trial on a spinach crop at Mulyan farms in Cowra, NSW. We had RIPPA driving up and down the rows autonomously using satellite based corrections to within 4cm precision. You can see RIPPA and VIIPA in action on the WIN News Central West Facebook page here:
Here's a video showing the first outdoor test of our new precision ground vehicle RIPPA™ (Robot for Intelligent Perception and Precision Application). VIIPA™ (Variable Injection Intelligent Precision Applicator) is shown autonomously shooting weeds at high speed using a directed micro dose of liquid. The first on-farm trial will be in Cowra late October, 2015!
With its comprehensive array of sensors, and ability to precisely and repeatably scan the field, Ladybird is well suited as a scientific research tool to measure crop phenotypes. We're working with the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) to test this application.
James Underwood gave a talk about autonomous information systems for tree crops, at the APAL speed updating session, alongside the National Horticulture Convention on the Gold Coast in June 2015. All the talks are available here.
This video shows the Ladybird performing targeted spot spray in real time. In this example, we show real-time results, first in the lab and then on a commercial vegetable orchard in Cowra, NSW, Australia. Ladybird detects the locations of seedlings in 3D using a stereo camera, then fires a small and controllable volume of spray at each target. Coupled with algorithms shown in previous videos for automatic weed detection, this technology can be used to deliver tiny amounts of herbicide exactly where it's needed, anywhere on the farm, allowing a herbicide volume reduction to only 0.01% compared with conventional blanket spraying applications.
This video demonstrates the use of a reconfigurable rover for crop row monitoring.