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Farming just got a whole lot smarter

Farming gets smart

The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have recently developed a golf cart sized robot that can navigate through fields of approximately 4000 hectares via high technology sensors. Aptly named AgBot, the robot is a lightweight buggy that can eradicate weeds and cause minimal damage to soil.

The world-first device was recently presented to the Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and Agricultural Minister John McVeigh.

This device will soon take the monotonous work out of weeding for Queensland farmers.

Developed by the QUT Robotics lab, in collaboration with both the Swarm Farm in Emerald and the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, the robotics device aims to revolutionise broad acre farming by creating a new class of small, intelligent, cooperative, autonomous robots to increase farming production.

Complimenting the AgBot, QUT are also looking to develop fleets of small robots which communicate with each other and their operator online - while working to spray crops and identify diseases. A number of prototypes of agricultural robots have been developed on the back of Federal funds.

Further, trials in Queensland have previously used the internet and satellite mapping techniques to program paths for autonomous monitoring and spraying units. Reports say a more comprehensive internet infrastructure in rural areas will be needed for the technology to take off throughout the country.  

Other QUT robotics projects include:

  • Developing robots that operate underwater and are highly manoeuvrable, travel hundreds of kilometres and stay deployed at sea for multiple weeks;
  • Fleets of eco-friendly, robotic farm-hands to intelligently apply herbicides;
  • Disc shaped robots that can zoom to hard-to-reach places to do jobs which are too difficult or dangerous for people;
  • GPS navigation systems using low-resolution cameras instead of satellites, which often get scrambled in cities; and
  • Developing, with partners, technology to enable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to fly regularly in civilian airspace.
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