3D Robotic Weeding System

3D Robotic Weeding System

Wheeled landowner helper, called the Rowesys, was designed by a group of ten students from the Swiss Higher Technical School of Zurich. The name stands for “Robotic Weeding System”, which, as it were, hints at the goal of the project. Helped build the machine prototype university professors, and Scheurer Swiss Company, which produced a number of 3D-printed parts from polymer reinforced with fiberglass.

The real motivation for the creation of this robot was the desire for more environmentally friendly and safe agriculture. Switzerland is not included in the number of countries whose population is so addicted to pesticides that it categorically rejects genetically modified products, and indeed is ready to consider any decisions to increase productivity without increasing toxicity and environmental damage.

Genetic modifications are very effective in controlling insect pests: it is enough to “sew” special short ribonucleic acid molecules into the potato code, and Colorado potato beetles will die only a few days after eating their favorite root crop. Such chains act selectively, so there is nothing to fear from pollinating insects or people.

Thus, GMOs allow you to refuse or at least reduce the use of insecticides that poison everyone in a row, including useful insects and people.

But with weeds everything is more complicated: here either you need to spray the fields with herbicides in the old fashioned way or remove uninvited guests from the arable land in some other way. For example, using a weeding robot.

The system is designed with an emphasis on full automation and using generative design and topological optimization. A pair of 3D-printed components can be seen from the outside: grilles are visible in the front and rear of the aluminum chassis, behind which LED indicators are hidden. The remaining parts are located inside: for example, mounting electronic systems of the robot.

The robot is oriented in space and calculates weeds using two cameras – tracking and depth. The latter camera is able to work in infrared mode, which allows you to “separate the grain from the chaff”: in the visible range it is difficult to recognize weeds, but in the infrared, they supposedly differ quite a lot from the protected crop.

Picture Credit: Unsplash

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