Robotics Plus unveils self-driving vehicle to alleviate agricultural labor shortage

Robotics Plus unveils self-driving vehicle to alleviate agricultural labor shortage

Modular, versatile, unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) platform automates tree and vine planting tasks, starting with smart spraying

Fresno, CA, and Tauranga, NZ, October 19, 2022 Robotics PlusToday, agritech in New Zealand launched its modular, autonomous and versatile agricultural vehicle platform designed to perform a variety of orchard and vineyard machinery tasks – to alleviate ongoing labor shortages and transform the industry.

The Multipurpose Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) in a fleet of vehicles can be supervised by a single human operator. The vehicle uses a combination of vision systems and other technologies to sense the environment – to optimize tasks and allow for intelligent and targeted application of inputs such as aerosols. Farmers will be able to rotate multiple tools on a highly adaptable and configurable farming platform, depending on the day’s work – for functions such as spraying, weed control, mulching, mowing, and crop analysis.

Robotics Plus, which specializes in designing and building robots, artificial intelligence and autonomous machines, has revealed its experimental vehicle in FIRA USA 2022a California-based event dedicated to autonomous farming and agricultural robotics solutions for the North American market.

Steve Saunders, Co-Founder and CEO of Robotics Plus, says its global team has worked alongside farmers, researchers and best-in-class technology suppliers to deliver a unique, modular architecture for a multi-purpose UGV, which can operate at scale. from environments.

“We have created a flexible farming platform that has the ability to adapt to different crop types with tools for diverse applications, providing the benefits of year-round automation and machine optimization.

“To adapt and thrive in a changing world and create a sustainable and competitive future in the specialized tree crop and agricultural sector – farmers and gardeners need automation that solves real-world problems, reduces reliance on increasingly expensive and hard-to-find machine operators and provides data-driven insights to make informed decisions” .

In order to adopt automation, Saunders says, it must also provide a good return on investment.

“Our MPV is replacing tractors and other implements. But it does much more than just replace labor – it is loaded with intelligence to improve efficiencies,” he says.

The first application of this technology is smart spraying. The system intelligently changes the flow rate to ensure effective spraying while minimizing inputs. Spray rates and air velocity are controlled in areas and responds as the sprayer moves along rows of orchards or vineyards.

The highly maneuverable UGV features a small size and a unique steering configuration, including electric steering and independent drives, increasing productivity – allowing significantly more ground coverage than machines running every second row or larger, depending on the row configuration. . UGV can be deployed in a range of applications in different crop types with row spacing of at least 1.8m/6ft.

Dr. Alistair Scarf, co-founder and chief technology officer of Robotics Plus, says the UGV hybrid diesel electric motor delivers excellent performance in the field.

Electric drivetrains give superior torque and control, while a Tier 4 diesel generator means the car can run for extended periods of time. Fuel consumption is reduced by electric driving of all systems, including tools. Regenerative braking and high-capacity batteries also increase efficiency and range.

“In addition, the vehicle’s lightweight design and intelligent all-wheel drive system, with independent wheel drives ensure stability and control – while significantly reducing ground pressure to protect the soil,” he says.

The vehicle was designed from the ground up to be modular and easy to maintain. With no hydraulic, gearbox or differential fluids to manage, operators can easily keep their vehicles running in the event of a part failure by swapping units when needed. All of this is designed to reduce downtime and complexity for farmers.

Robotics Plus has partnered with best-in-class technology suppliers, including Yamaha Motor Company and Autonomous Solutions Inc. and Croplands, to greatly increase product durability and support in a demanding environment such as agriculture.

With a partnership approach, Saunders says, Robotics Plus has created a best-in-class platform for the farming industry.

“We have benefited from our partner’s deep knowledge and access to high-quality technical components. Additionally, growers can deploy Quantum Sprayers in configurations adaptable to different crop types, growth formats, and heights.”

Robotics Plus has developed multiple autonomous systems for use in agriculture and automation for intelligent fruit packaging to address critical industry issues, including global labor shortages, rising costs, and yield security. In addition, automated automated log metering machines are transforming port logistics while improving safety and productivity.

The rapidly growing Robotics Plus team has developed the UGV modular platform at its base in Tauranga, with extensive testing in New Zealand and the United States in various environments and applications. Robotics Plus investors include Yamaha Motor Corporation and the ACC Impact Fund of New Zealand.

Robotics Plus’ new modular autonomous vehicle is available for pre-order. For more information, see https://www.roboticsplus.co.nz/

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