Robots Changing the Future of Agriculture

How can robots change the future of agriculture? If you ask George Kantor, a Senior Systems Scientist for the FarmView initiative, he says robots will change agriculture in three ways: vine balance management, accelerating crop breeding, and intelligent irrigation control.

With the growing world population, we need new methods of growing food that are smarter, quicker, and regulate our use of land, water, and energy. FarmView is an initiative being worked on at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute. Their goal? To improve plant breeding and crop-management methods.

Researchers for FarmView are working to combine sensors, robotics, and artificial intelligence in order to create mobile field robots. They believe that robots can gather data in fields with extreme accuracy and speed. The information that these robots could gather could be used to help farmers grow more food while using fewer land and water resources.

Mobile field robots could also help with plant breeding. With the use of the robots, plant phenotype data can be collected over much larger breeding experiments than what can currently be done. Then the phenotype data can be combined with genetic and environmental data to help plant breeders have a better understanding of the relationship between genetics, environment, and plant performance, according to Kantor. This will greatly accelerate the breeding process.

The mobile field robot is designed with a camera, a laser scanner that will measure a plant’s geometry, and a multispectral camera for seeing non-visible radiation bands and measuring plant function. FarmView is also collaborating with Clemson University, Cornell, and the University of California Davis.

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