Field robots are a type of professional service robot that automate tough manual tasks. Typically, they’re used on land and operate fully autonomous. While they’re used in a wide range of applications, agriculture has become one of the top users of this new technology.
The agriculture industry faces a lot of problems. Pricing needs to be competitive on a global scale, creating constant pressure to reduce operating costs. At the same time, a quickly growing population needs more and more food, putting further pressure on farmers to increase yields. Field robots are playing an important part in addressing these challenges.
Types of Field Robots Used in Agriculture Applications
There are many different types of field robots used in agriculture and new solutions are in development every day. The following 8 types of field robots have become the most popular so far.
- Precision Agriculture: these field robots are used on small farms or vineyards and enable precision agriculture techniques. Often, they’re used to autonomously monitor soil respiration, photosynthetic activity, leaf area indexes (LAI) and other biological factors.
- Pollution Monitoring: some field robots are now equipped to monitor the pollution created by agriculture at the ground level. These robots measure carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions so that farmers can reduce their environmental footprint.
- Livestock Ranching: a new type of field robot is used to herd livestock on large ranches. These robots also monitor the animals and ensure they’re healthy and have enough area to graze.
- Weed Control: field robots for weed control can autonomously navigate a farm and deliver targeted sprays of herbicides to eliminate weeds. This approach reduces crops’ exposure to herbicides and helps prevent the growth of herbicide-resistant weeds.
- Nursery Automation: field robots can be used in crop nurseries, primarily to move plants around large greenhouses. These robots create major efficiencies for crop nurseries and help address a growing labor shortage.
- Crop Harvesting: for harvesting crops, specialized field robots can work around the clock for faster harvesting, in some cases completing the same amount of work as approximately 30 workers.
- Fruit Harvesting: field robots are starting to be used to harvest fruit in addition to crops. Fruit harvesting is notoriously difficult for robots. These field robots are equipped with advanced vision systems to identify fruits and grasp them without damaging them.
- Planting and Seeding: an emerging application, field robots with 3D vision systems can now accurately plant and seed crops for optimal growth, primarily for lettuce farming and vineyards.
Field robots are diverse in their form and function, even within the agriculture industry. As farmers face a number of growing challenges, field robots are stepping up and helping them improve efficiency and bring in larger crop yields.
To learn more about field robots, visit our educational section on field robots and professional service robots.