Agricultural Robotics and Sensors

The Future of Agriculture

The practice of agriculture has been evolving for millennia. In order to meet the agricultural demands of the 21st century, new wave of agricultural robotics and sensors is necessary.

Programs such as SmartFarm, competitions such as the ASABE Robotics Competition, and robots such as UAV Spray Drones and FRAIL-Bots (pictured left) showcase the ways in which humans and robots can work together in the field.

SmartFarm UC Davis Biological and Agricultural Engineering David Slaughter

Design, build, and test your own agricultural robot

In EBS289K, students have the chance to design, build, and test their own robots. These robots are designed to simulate any number of tasks found in the field such as picking apples or weeding. They are small versions of the kinds of smart agricultural equipment researchers hope to deploy in the future.

Harvest-Aid Robot

Harvesting strawberries is not easy. Much time is spent walking back and forth from the plants to the collection station to deliver trays.

Fragile Crop Harvest-Aiding Mobile Robots, or FRAIL-Bots, is a project that was funded by USDA-NIFA, under the National Robotics Initiative. The robots "transport the strawberries from the worker to the collection station, and also provide empty trays," said inventor Dr. Vougioukas.

These FRAIL-bots are one more step towards understanding and enhancing human-robot interactions. They predict when a picker's tray will be full and ready to be transported, based on the picker's past and current picking speed, and travel to them "pro-actively," to reduce waiting times. Pickers are very intolerant of delays, robots are more patient. The robot scheduling system performs stochastic optimization in real-time to eliminate picker waiting time and increase harvest efficiency by 10 to 20%.