Feedback sought on farm robot potential

Feedback sought on farm robot potential


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ROBOT MEN: The University of Sydney's Matt Imhoff and Justin Clarke with the RIPPA bot at a field demonstration in Bundaberg, which highlighted its field mapping and weed detection capabilities.

ROBOT MEN: The University of Sydney's Matt Imhoff and Justin Clarke with the RIPPA bot at a field demonstration in Bundaberg, which highlighted its field mapping and weed detection capabilities.

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GETTING an idea of how much in-field robots can actually achieve is part of the drive behind touring the RIPPA unit across the country.

For the past two years, the Robot for Intelligent Perception and Precision Application (RIPPA) has been trialled on various farms throughout the country in front of growers to gather ideas and evaluate what is possible with robotics.

Last week the unit was in Bundaberg, Qld for a demonstration day at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, put on by Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers.

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RIPPA has the ability to collect data using sensors that can map an area of a crop and detect weeds as well as remove foreign objects.

It can use this data to estimate yield and fertilise crops.

The University of Sydney robotic systems engineer, Justin Clarke, was on hand to explain how the device worked and to also speak directly with growers for ideas on new uses for the bot.

He said it was about asking what the robot could do for farmers, particularly in the area of crop interaction, such as weed removal.

"We're here to ask what you would like a system like this to do because you know your farms better than we will ever know them," Mr Clarke said.

ROLLING ON: Weed detection and foreign object removal are just some of the abilities the RIPPA can perform.

ROLLING ON: Weed detection and foreign object removal are just some of the abilities the RIPPA can perform.

"We are more from the engineering side so any information we can get from you on the agronomy and what's useful will be very helpful to us.

"We're just continuing the research as we go and trying to get feedback from growers to see what they find useful, develop some more proof-of-concepts and keep that interest going."

The robot features deep-learning capacity which means it progressively gets "smarter" the more it is used.

Like the VegNET project, the RIPPA is funded by Hort Innovation using Vegetable levies and Australian Government funds.​ 

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