The AgriRover: A Reinvented Mechatronic Platform from Space Robotics for Precision Farming
This paper presents an introduction of a novel development to a multi-functional mobile platform for agriculture applications. This is achieved through a reinvention process of a mechatronic design by spinning off space robotic technologies into terrestrial applications in the AgriRover project. The AgriRover prototype is the first of its kind in exploiting and applying space robotic technologies in precision farming. To optimize energy consumption of the mobile platform, a new dynamic total cost of transport algorithm is proposed and validated. An autonomous navigation system has been developed to enable the AgriRover to operate safely in unstructured farming environments. An object recognition algorithm specific to agriculture has been investigated and implemented. A novel soil sample collecting mechanism has been designed and prototyped for on-board and in situ soil quality measurement. The design of the whole system has benefited from the use of a mechatronic design process known as the Tiv model through which a planetary exploration rover is reinvented into the AgriRover for agricultural applications. The AgriRover system has gone through three sets of field trials in the UK and some of these results are reported.
The AgriRover project is funded by the UK Space Agency under its International Partnerships in Space Programme and the authors would like to thank the Agency for its financial support. The authors would like to thank the owner of the Rushyhill Farm for its use for field trials of the AgriRover. Part of this work has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 821996 for MOSAR.
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