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The ACFR has been conducting research in autonomous, remote sensing and developing robotics and intelligent software for the environment and agriculture community over the last 10 years.
- Salah Sukkarieh - Project Lead - Automation in Agriculture and the Environment
- James Underwood - Senior Research Fellow, Sensors, Mapping and Autonomous Perception
- Robert Fitch - Senior Research Fellow, Manipulation, Planning and Optimisation
- Calvin Hung - Research Fellow, Detection and Classification
- Juan Nieto - Senior Research Fellow, Sensors, Mapping and Autonomous Perception
- Mark Calleija - Systems Engineer and Operations
We have a range of projects, using Unmanned Air and Ground Vehicles, with the latest updates listed below.
The ACFR team has demonstrated SwagBot autonomously spot spraying weeds on a grazing property near Marulan, New South Wales. SwagBot can be seen automatically detecting and spraying serrated tussock. This solution has the potential to significantly reduce the burden of ongoing weed management.
SwagBot has been designed for the grazing livestock industry to assist with a range of tasks including weed control, animal monitoring and pasture surveys.
Serrated tussock is a highly invasive weed found throughout temperate Australia. It is a threat to native grasslands through reduced biodiversity, and has a severe impact on agricultural productivity.
The Digital Farmhand comprises of a small mobile platform that can be remotely or autonomously controlled. On the mobile platform exists a smartphone, sensors, and computing. The robot also has a three-point-hitch system which allows the use of farming implements to do activities such as precision seeding, spraying and weeding; and, through its ability to monitoring individual plants, the data it produces has the potential to support better on-farm decision making helping growers increase yield and productivity, reduce input costs, and maximise nutrition security.
As part of the Launch Food program, it was concluded that conducting a pilot study in the Pacific Islands would be ideal because of the need for improving food security in the Pacific Islands and because of the strong alliances between Australia and the Pacific Island community. In this video, we travelled to Samoa to trial the robot on three different farms and conducted a workshop with local farmers to get feedback on how a system like Digital Farmhand could be used in the region.
In addition to the trial our team assessed:
- The current level of digital technology readiness and understanding amongst farmers centred around agriculture;
- The ICT infrastructure currently in place to support platforms like Digital Farmhand; and
- Economic analysis of how current farming practices and how technology could help reduce input costs and increase productivity and yield.
Digital Farmhand and Swagbot were trialled on an orchard (Apple, Nectarine, Peach) near Bilpin NSW. The team wanted to see how Digital Farmhand and Swagbot would perform in an orchard setting.
Below is a short video montage of the trial.
Digital Farmhand is a modular low-cost platform designed to assist smallholder farmers in improving their productivity, yields and ultimately provide a more reliable income amidst changing markets and climates. In its simplest form it is a small electric tractor-like vehicle that can tow a variety of implements such as seeders, weeders and bed preparation tools. The Digital Farmhand can also use accessible smartphone technologies along with AI to provide crop analytics such as yield estimation, pest and disease identification, as well as precision automation of many labour intensive farm tasks, e.g. weeding, spraying and seeding The ACFR team conducted trials on 3 different farms in Fiji with the Digital Farmhand robotic platform in June 2018.
Below is a short video of the trial and an article from the ABC about the project
Created through the Horticulture Innovation Centre for Robotics and Intelligent Systems at the University of Sydney's internationally-recognised Australian Centre for Field Robotics, RIPPA is a production prototype robot for the vegetable industry. This video provides an update on RIPPA’s functionality and future research and development work.
This video shows our latest work in light interception modelling for orchards. Tree geometry is modelled using point clouds from a handheld LiDAR, while public weather data is used to model the sky at a given time and date. The light in the sky is then ray-traced through the tree to provide an estimate of light interception, distribution and absorption. The model can be applied to decision support systems, for example to inform optimal pruning practices. For more information see our arxiv preprint.
This small bot is capable of doing useful tasks in a fully autonomous fashion. Features include on-board computing, communications, sensing, power management, solar system and high torque motors. There is also space for additional payloads.
Small robots have a number of potential applications including materials inspection (i.e., pipes), navigating through collapsed buildings, intelligent transportation/delivery, micro surgery, surveillance and more.
This video shows the first steps towards an automatic lameness detection system for dairy cows. Four sensors record 3D data as cattle walk past. A Neural Network has been trained with hand-labelled data to detect hooves. These detections are projected to 3D and tracked to provide four hoof trajectories. Limb motion is an important indicator of lameness, and an example of hoof placement is shown for a healthy and severely lame cow.
SwagBot was recently demonstrated at a cattle station near Nevertire, NSW. SwagBot is a lightweight, electric vehicle designed to collect data on pasture and livestock. Local farmers were shown how SwagBot can automatically detect and spray weeds in grazing land using various spray attachments. The team also completed aerial surveying of the property which will be used to develop farm maps and resources for weed mapping.
Thank you to Central West Local Land Services for organising the event.
The RIPPA team recently completed a successful field trial on a broccoli crop at Fresh Select farms in Werribee, Victoria. RIPPA's tasks included data collection, foreign object removal, a solar endurance characterization and testing a new deep learning algorithm for weed detection that was used for real time mechanical weeding.
Thanks to the team at Fresh Select for making this possible.
This video shows our latest results in mango fruit detection, localisation and mapping. The multi-sensor robot 'Shrimp' acquires data with a variety of different sensors, including lidar for tree canopy segmentation and colour vision for fruit detection and triangulation. This is arguably the world's most accurate system for mapping individual whole fruit in commercial orchards, while the fruit is still on the tree. Compared to post-harvest yield estimates for individual trees, the system counts accurately (linear fit, near unity slope of 0.96 and r^2 value of 0.89). The system has now been validated on two subsequent seasons, with the third planned later this year (2017). Scanning is performed 2 months before harvest time, meaning there's plenty of opportunity to use it for precision agriculture and on-farm decision making, towards optimised fruit production.
The people from Jungle Creations have taken various footage of our Ladybird robot and made a viral video
This video shows footage from a recent demonstration of the Digital Farmhand robot at Richmond, NSW.
Digital Farmhand is a low cost row crop robot aimed towards helping small scale farmers in Australia & overseas to perform crop analytics and automation of simple farming tasks. The design of the platform is based around the use of cheap low cost sensors, computing and manufacturing techniques which will allow the farmer to easily maintain and modify their platform to suit their needs.
The platform comes with an actuated 3 point hitch mechanism which allows various implements to be attached (similar to a tractor). Currently 4 implements have been manufactured for this platform. These include a sprayer, seeder, tine weeder and tow ball hitch.
More details visit http://sydney.edu.au/acfr/agriculture
On the 23rd of June 2017, ACFR was invited to a Local Land Services NSW field day event to present the work they have done over the last six months on a platform called the Digital Farmhand (Previously referred to as Di-Wheel). The event generated a large amount of interest within the local farming community with over 100 registrations for the event. During the event, the team presented:
- the project overview
- the design concept of the Digital Farmhand
- plant analytics via low-cost sensors (smartphone camera)
- the future vision of the project
- live demonstration of automated row turning via low-cost sensors (smartphone camera)
- live demonstration of a farming implement (spray boom) mounted on the digital farmhand
Below are some photos from the event. Link to news article here hawkesbury gazette
We had a robotic arm lying around and thought we’d have some fun in the lab with a pneumatic pruner.
Shown here is a UR5 arm configured to navigate to way points on a tree. Once in position, the pruner is activated and a branch is removed.
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