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.