The agricultural robot is also a robot. We use this robot for the cultivating plants, soil and livestock. The key area where we use agricultural robots in agriculture is at harvesting level. In agriculture, the rising applications of robots comprise analysis of soil, planting the seeds, cloud seeding and harvesting etc. According to some sources, the market for agricultural robots may reach $11.50 billion by 2025.
There are robots like fruit harvester robots and sheep pruning robots etc. These are designed especially for agricultural purpose and also to replace human beings. In almost all cases, we have to examine a lot of factors. For example, which colour and size of the fruit we have to pick. We all have to do this before the beginning of the task.
We can use robots for other horticultural activities such as monitoring, weeding and spraying etc. They can also use them in livestock applications like washing and automatic milking etc. These robots provide many benefits to the agricultural industries. They can produce a better quality of fresh things. It also leads to a decrease in production cost. And as a result, requirement of labour will be less.
We can use them to automate manual activities. For example, bracken spraying.
Design of Agricultural Robot
Its design comprises of gripper, manipulator and end effector. We need to consider various factors in the composition of manipulator such as economic efficiency, task etc.
The End Effectors
An end effector is a device which you can find at the end of the arm in an agricultural robot. We use them in various agricultural activities. There are different types of end effector which has developed. In Japan, they use end effectors for begging, spraying, harvesting and berry-thinning in their agricultural activities including grapes. They design each end effector according to the task’s nature. For example, the end effectors which they use for harvesting were designed to push and cut the grapes bunches.
There is a process known as berry thinning which they perform on the grapes. We use this to increase the market value, size and also simplify the process of bunching. End effector which they use for berry thinning contains three parts, middle part, the upper part and lower part. The upper part consists of rubber and two plates which can close and open. The two plates can squeeze the grapes to cut the branches and take out the grapes bunches. The middle part consists of compression string, a plate of needles and also an additional plate. This additional plate has holes spread everywhere on the surface. The needles pierce the holes through the grapes when two plates compress. Finally, the lower part contains the cutting device. This helps to cut the bunches to regulate its length.
The end effector which uses for spraying contains spray nozzle which is stick to the manipulator. Producers want to make sure that chemical liquid is sprayed on an equal amount everywhere on the bunch.
This is the final step in the production of grape. This is the bagging process. The end effector which they use for bagging has developed with two mechanical fingers and bag feeder. The bag feeder in the bagging process is formed of slits. It continually supplies bags to the fingers in changing (down and up) motion. Two leaf springs are placed on the uppermost of the bag. It holds up the open bag. The bags are formed to include the grapes in bunches. When the bagging process is finished, the fingers are open and discharge the bag. Ultimately, this closes the leaf spring, which seals up the bag. It also prevents it from opening afterwards.
The manipulator permits the end effector and the gripper to navigate through their domain. It comprises of four-bar parallel links. It can maintain the position and height of the gripper and also utilize one or two pneumatic actuators. The pneumatic actuator is a type of motor which do some kind of mechanical work. In fact, it makes rotary and linear motion by transforming compressed air into energy. The pneumatic actuator is also one of the most dominant actuators because it has a high power-weight ratio. Single actuator configuration is the best for the manipulator as it helps you to achieve maximum productivity with the least expenses.
A grasping device which we can use for harvesting the crop. Its design is based on efficacy, directness and least cost. Therefore, the design comprises of two mechanical fingers which can move synchronously when doing their job.
The demand for Agricultural Robot
The amount of labour becomes a matter of concern in the agricultural sector. Having a maturing population, Japan is not able to fulfil the requirements of agricultural labour. Likewise, the United States relies on the huge number of immigrant labours. But they are also not able to fulfil the demand because of govt. is making efforts to stop immigration. Crops are also rotting there because there is no one to pick them by the end of the season. For this reason, it becomes necessary to improve the agricultural machines. As a result, we can achieve maximum productivity with the least expenses.
Applications of Agricultural Robot
Robots can do many activities in the agricultural sector. Here are some of the prototypes and instances of robots such as orange harvester, weeder, lettuce bot and harvest automation etc. As per David Gardner, a robot can finish a difficult task if it is repetitive. And we can allow the robot to sit in a single place.
The next field of application is horticulture. It is the development of RV100 by Harvest Automation. RV100 is used to ship potted plants in the greenhouse. The functionality of RV100 is not only organizing and handling potted plants but also consists of collection, consolidation etc. There are advantages of using RV100. It has an indoor function, autonomous outdoor which further helps to reduce the cost of production.
Examples of Agricultural Robot
- Thorvald is a multipurpose agricultural robot. Saga Robotics has developed it.
- Vinoculer and Vinobot.
- Harvest automation is an organization which develops robots for greenhouses.
- In greenhouses, they use tomato picking robot. Root AI has developed it.
- Ecorobotix is an organization which has developed spraying robot.
- Hortibot is a plant nursing robot.