Agricultural Robotics is the logical proliferation of automation technology into biosystems such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, etc. Robots have the advantage of being small, light weight and autonomous. Because of their size they can collect data in close proximity to the crop and soil.
Agricultural Robots Take the Field
At the other end of the size spectrum, University of Illinois agricultural engineers are working on robots ("ag robots") small enough to walk in the rows between plants, scouting for weeds and insects, and taking soil tests. These small (approximately one foot long) robots could do the work now tediously done with human-piloted tractors.
Some of the current approaches:
- "Ag Ant", an inexpensive foot-long bot that works cooperatively
- Robots using laser guidance systems to maintain a straight path
- Robots that use ultrasonic sensors that weave from plant to plant