In Switzerland, EU-funded scientists developed adaptable ground and aerial robots that can increase agricultural yield, reduce pesticide use and mitigate food security risks that are closely intertwined with agricultural uncertainty.
The project developed an autonomous farming system where drones and robots work together to monitor the crop and precisely remove weeds. The newly developed robotic system combines the aerial survey capabilities of a small autonomous multi-copter unmanned aerial vehicle with a multi-purpose unmanned ground vehicle.
“Equipped with a camera, various sensors, GPS and statistical software the UAV can scan different crop characteristics such as height, canopy cover and chlorophyll levels, and provide information related to plant ‘phenotyping’,” explain Prof. Siegwart and Dr Inkyu Sa. The drone can also distinguish between crops and weeds, while advanced algorithms enable it to optimize its flight path. Once the UAV has completed its task it communicates the areas that need attention to the UGV.