A field robot goes global

A field robot, constructed at the department of Agrotechnology in Viikki, will participate in a robot competition arranged in the Netherlands on 7 July.

A field robot goes global

– This is like a toy, so far, says Petro Tamminen , describing the gadget that reminds us of a combination of a robot and a remote-controlled car.

The gadget, slightly larger than a football, takes a steep curve through a bundle of folders that simulate a garden on the floor of an agrotechnology laboratory in Viikki. The construction and testing activities have become more intense in the summer, since Tamminen and his team aim for the field robot competition taking place in the Netherlands on 7 July.

– Perhaps we will soon see fields filled with a group of small, automated devices instead of large farm machinery, Tamminen speculates.

Field robots will become common at the latest when the automated equipment gradually learns to better identify terrain locations with the help of three-dimensional laser scanning. The prevention of weeds, for example, could be easier with tools at the scale of an ATV.

Ville Koivisto and Marko Niskanen know the technical aspects of the machine entitled ReD, that is, Remote Destroyer:

– Ultrasound sensors, a processor, computer vision unit, camera, wireless communication, compass.

Inexpensive, but of a high quality!

Besides toying with the equipment, the activities related to the field robot are an exercise in constructing, programming, project management and cross-discipline cooperation for students. The Viikki-based students will compete in the Netherlands as a team together with students of automation and system technology and mechatronics at the Helsinki University of Technology.

ReD will participate independently in some of the contests, and in some of them it will act as a trailer for the EasyWheels robot constructed by the University of Technology students. A similar alliance has also been established in previous competitions.

Last summer, agrotechnologists constructed a smart trailer named SeedOMatic - a machine that passes through corn field row gaps, monitoring for empty spots and sowing new seeds in them. SeedOMatic functioned very well. In a competition in Osnabruck, Germany, the Mean Maize Maze combination device won all five legs.

Read more about field robots:

EasyWheels robot

Field Robot Competition 2009

Text: Virve Pohjanpalo
Photo: Marko Niskanen

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