What is an agricultural robot (agribot)? Definition and examples

An agricultural robot, also known as an agribot, is a robot designed for use in the agriculture industry.

Agribots automate tasks for farmers, boosting the efficiency of production and reducing the industry’s reliance on manual labor. 

One of the biggest advantages of agribots is that they can operate 24/7, 365 days a year. And, unlike human labor, they do not need to be paid – just maintained.

Some of the main applications of robots in agriculture include:

  • Harvesting and picking
  • Autonomous mowing, seeding, spraying, and pruning
  • Sorting and packing
  • Phenotyping

As the human population grows, farmers are having to use new technologies to keep up with growing demand. By 2050, there are expected to be about 9 billion people in the world. IEEE Robotics and Automation Society says that “agricultural production must double if it is to meet the increasing demands for food and bioenergy.”

In order to meet the 9 billion people’s demand for food, robotics and automation are expected to play a major role in society.

Examples of agricultural robots

See & Spray – Blue River Technology’s precision weed control machine

Using computer vision and artificial intelligence, these smart machines can detect, identify, and make management decisions about plants in the field.

See & Spray – Blue River Technology’s precision weed control machine

The machines see every plant and determine the appropriate treatment for each. The machine can distinguish subtle differences between cotton plants and weeds of many species and sizes. The robot’s nozzles target unwanted weeds in real time as the machine passes. It applies herbicide only to weeds, avoiding application on crop or areas without weeds. The machine then assesses the applied herbicide, makes adjustments, and learns as it goes.

Harvest CROO Robotics: Advanced Strawberry Picking Robot

Florida-based Harvest CROO Robotics has made significant advancements in automated strawberry harvesting. Their proprietary machine, the Computerized Robotic Optimized Obtainer (CROO), streamlines the picking process with remarkable efficiency. It has the capacity to pick a strawberry plant in just 8 seconds and can cover eight acres in a single day. This robotic solution essentially eliminates the need for large teams of human pickers, with a single CROO machine substituting the manual labor of over 30 individuals.

The innovative approach of Harvest CROO hinges on their principle of “Conservation of Motion” robotics. Instead of employing a single robotic arm for strawberry harvesting, the system integrates multiple robotic components, each dedicated to specific tasks. These tasks include leaf gathering, visual inspection, picking, and packing. By segregating these functions, Harvest CROO has been able to design robots that are not only simpler but also more rapid and scalable, aligning well with the demands of modern farm operations.

As the agricultural industry continues to evolve, innovative solutions like the CROO robot are integral in meeting the increasing demands for efficient and sustainable farming methods. It’s expected that with further technological advancements, the capabilities of such agribots will only expand, ushering in a new era of precision agriculture.

Autonomous tractors

Autonomous Tractor Corporation develops autonomous electronic tractors for tilling, harvesting, and hauling applications in the agricultural sector.

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Agricultural drones

Agricultural drones are unmanned aerial vehicles used to let farmers see their fields from the sky and monitor crop growth.

Sophisticated drones allow farmers to plan a survey by selecting the edges of the field, defining flight parameters and uploading it to the drone. The drone then flies the plan automatically. Some drones have a data chip which can quickly send the data it captured to image processing and analytic services.