【农田中的机器人:农场自动化将可能实现】

【农田中的机器人:农场自动化将可能实现】英国机器人专家乔·奥尔努特,在英格兰南部的一次试验中试用了一个名叫汤姆的农业机器人。这名“工人”有条不紊地检查冬小麦作物是否有杂草和害虫,不抱怨,甚至不流汗。这是因为它是一个四轮机器人,它使用gps、人工智能和智能手机技术对这块农田进行数字地图绘制。其目的是大幅度减少化肥和农药的使用,以降低成本,提高农民的利润。它不仅在经济上有所帮助,而且还降低了农业对环境的影响。这些机器人的商业销售还需要数年的时间,计划在2021年进行更大规模的测试。它们代表了农场自动化发展的下一步。

Robots in the field: Farms embrace autonomous technology as 'agri-tech' startups race to make food production cheaper and more efficient

Faced with seesawing commodity prices and the pressure to be more efficient and environmentally friendly, farmer Jamie Butler is trying out a new worker on his 450-acre farm in England's Hampshire countryside.

Methodically inspecting Butler's winter wheat crop for weeds and pests, the laborer doesn't complain or even break a sweat.

That's because it's a four-wheel robot dubbed 'Tom' that uses GPS, artificial intelligence and smartphone technology to digitally map the field.

Joe Allnutt, lead roboticist at British startup company the Small Robot Company, inspects a farming robot named Tom as part of a trial in East Meon, southern England

Joe Allnutt, lead roboticist at British startup company the Small Robot Company, inspects a farming robot named Tom as part of a trial in East Meon, southern England

Tom's creator, the Small Robot Company, is part of a wave of 'agri-tech' startups working to transform production in a sector that is under economic strain due to market pressures to keep food cheap, a rising global population and the uncertainties of climate change.

Most robots are still only being tested, but they offer a glimpse of how automation will spread from manufacturing plants into rural areas.

'If we can keep our costs to an absolute minimum by being on the leading edge of technologies as one method of doing that, then that's a really, really good thing,' said Butler, one of 20 British farmers enlisted in a yearlong trial.

Next year, the British startup plans to start testing two more robots controlled by an artificial intelligence system that will work alongside Tom, autonomously doing precision 'seeding, feeding and weeding.'

The aim is to drastically cut down on fertilizer and pesticide use to lower costs and boost profits for struggling farmers.

As such, it not only helps economically, but it also lowers the environmental impact of farming.

'What we're doing is stuff that people can't do,' said Ben Scott-Robinson, co-founder of the Small Robot Company .

'It's not physically possible for a farmer to go round and check each individual plant and then treat that plant individually.

A farming robot named 'Tom' produced by Small Robot Company as part of a field trial to develop new farm technologie. The 'agri-tech' startup company is developing lightweight autonomous machines that can carry out precision 'seeding, feeding and weeding'

A farming robot named 'Tom' produced by Small Robot Company as part of a field trial to develop new farm technologie. The 'agri-tech' startup company is developing lightweight autonomous machines that can carry out precision 'seeding, feeding and weeding'

Most robots are still only being tested, but they offer a glimpse of how automation will spread from manufacturing plants into rural areas

Most robots are still only being tested, but they offer a glimpse of how automation will spread from manufacturing plants into rural areas

That's only possible when you have something as tireless as a robot and as focused and accurate as an AI to be able to achieve that.'

Commercial sales of the robots is still years away, with larger-scale testing planned for 2021. They represent the next step in the evolution of automation for farms.

Self-driving tractors and robotic milking machines have been in use for years and, more recently, unmanned aerial drones that monitor crops have gone into service.

Eventually, farmers 'will be able to automate virtually everything,' said Tim Chambers, a fruit farmer who's not involved in the trial.

Some jobs are harder to automate, such as harvesting delicate raspberries or strawberries by hand, but even that is coming, said Chambers, a member of Britain's National Farmers Union.

WHEN WILL ROBOT FARMERS BE A REALITY?

Leading agricultural minds are working on developing robots to increase the efficiency of plant harvesting.

Harper Adams University in Shropshire are developing a robot that don't harvest crops until they are perfect, eradicating wonky and inedible vegetable.

Farmers currently harvest fields all at once, in a practice known as slaughter harvesting.

But this method leads to up to 60 per cent of the crop being wasted, because it is either wonky or inedible.

Engineers are working on machines that can autonomously plant seeds, weed, water and spray without a farmer.

The robots can also be programmed to only pick crops where they are perfectly ripe.

Developer of the autonomous veg pickers, Professor Simon Blackmore, said: 'I am trying to develop a completely new agricultural mechanisation system based on small smart machines.

'We are developing laser weeding, droplet application where only 100 per cent of the chemical goes onto the target leaf, selective harvesting where we can grade the product at the point of harvest.'

Florida's Harvest Croo Robotics , Spain's Agrobot , Britain's Dogtooth Technologies and Belgium's Octinion are all developing berry-picking bots. California startup Iron Ox and Japan's Spread grow vegetables in automated indoor farms.

Bosch startup Deepfield Robotics is working on a weeding robot that punches them into the ground.

Last year, British researchers planted, monitored, tended and harvested a barley crop using only autonomous machines robots, in what they said was a world first.

A more fundamental problem 'will be the cost of building those robots and the research that has to go into making them,' Chambers said.

The low cost of air freight could still make it cheaper to, for example, fly in fruit from other countries where labor is cheaper, he said.

To ease financial pressure on farmers reluctant to make big one-off investments in equipment, the Small Robot Company plans to sell its services as a monthly subscription, charging 600 pounds per hectare a year.

Self-driving tractors and robotic milking machines have been in use for years and, more recently, unmanned aerial drones that monitor crops have gone into service

Self-driving tractors and robotic milking machines have been in use for years and, more recently, unmanned aerial drones that monitor crops have gone into service

With a bright orange 3D-printed body, and beefy all-terrain wheels, Tom resembles an oversized roller skate.

Their light weight means these robots won't compact soil the way tractors do, Scott-Robinson said.

On Butler's farm, Tom trundles along crop rows taking hundreds of thousands of high-resolution pictures during the growing season.

The images are fed to Wilma, the artificial intelligence platform, which is being trained to tell the difference between wheat and weeds.

In 2019, the company will hold trials for two more robots, Dick and Harry. Dick will deliver fertilizer directly to soil around roots, instead of wasteful blanket spraying, and use a laser or micro-spray chemicals to kill weeds.

Harry will insert seeds into the earth at a uniform depth and spacing, eliminating the need for tractors to plow furrows.

原文:https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6446071/Robots-field-farms-embracing-autonomous-technology.html


Comments are closed.



无觅相关文章插件