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Farming Automation

This page is to create a Road Map for Agricultural Farming Automation via 'Bots'

Types of Automation Bots

  • Aerial Drones
    • vertical, i.e. helicopters
    • horizontal, i.e. planes
  • Ground Bots
    • on wheels
    • on 'legs' i.e. spider
  • Fixed Bots
    • stationary or on a track
    • for small areas, i.e. small scale vegetable farming

Goals of Automation

  • Autonomous completion of tasks
  • Remote control (i.e. from Tiki site)
  • Swarm application (i.e. swarms in nature)
    • i.e. all drones connected (via code) and working as one unit in real time

Applications

Aerial drones

  • Applying crop protection (insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, etc.) only where necessary, i.e. to reduce quantities sprayed
  • Crop scouting (i.e. looking for problem areas in fields)
    • with mapping so results can be compared from year to year
    • First steps:
      • find similar open source code as the base for all future coding
      • focus on code that establishes communiction and coordination between two drones to complete separate parts of one task, with the assumption that if one drone fails, the other can take over all tasks.
      • a starting task would be to fly over one agriculture field in straight lines using GPS while taking photos of each part of the field, than the photos would need to be combined into one (i.e. map) of the field. This will be a basis for all ariel drone operations, i.e. spraying crop protection, fertilizers, etc.
  • Vegetation Maps
    • provides a type of 'heat map' so that a map can be produced to determine health of a field
    • via infrared cameras (though expensive, from $10,000) and horizontal take off drones at a height of 300 - 1000m

Ground drones

  • Mechanical elimination of weeds (i.e. cutting)
    • can be designed like a lawn mower, as the width of rows is standard in commercial farming (from 30 - 70 cm)
    • but, can be very difficult as many times, the weeds grow in right up against the stem of the plant
  • Planting (with fertilizers)
    • a great application as there is almost no soil compaction (vs. a very heavy tractor + seeder + seeder tanks)

Difficulties

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

  • Autonomy: necessary for tasks and problems to be completed autonomously
  • Continual contact: most likely necessary for continual contact between drones to work as one unit in real time
  • Resolving problems: numerous 'problems' will be encountered in the field on a daily basis, it will be necessary to create and prioritize these problems for developers to resolve such as:
    • evacuation and replacement when a drone breaks (power supply expires, environmental factors, like a tree falls on 10 - 20 planting bots), etc.)
    • re-programming remaining drones so task can be completed with remaining drones until the new one(s) arrive
    • visual recognition of problems
      • differentiating between the crops and weeds
      • differentiating problem areas of a field,, i.e. so additional liquid fertilizer can be applied only in those areas

Limitations

  • small farm bots cannot complete some farming operations such as 'Cultivation' and 'Harvesting' (see 'Farming Basics' below)
    • Cultivation - will always require heavy equipment to dig into the ground
    • Harvesting - combines are extremely complex pieces of equipment with hundreds of thousands of moving parts, most likely it will not be economically possible to reproduce this on the scale of a small bot

Open source code

  • There are many options, but they are more for serious enthusiasts vs. the toy type drone market, as found in this thread on DIYdrones.com forums:
    • "you may be looking to write code for the wrong platform ! Store bought platforms are for particular market closer to toy recreational market than professional market. serous enthusiast do not use these platforms they use professional built custom platforms! that use open platform like PX4 , pix hawk or Linux based Autopilot with RTK. "
  • PX4 Autopilot - in addition to the main link above, this link is directly to the PX4 Autopilot User Guide (BSD 3-clause license)
  • DIYdrones.com is a strong source of information for all DIY drone projects
  • Dronecode.org promotes standardization of OS drone software
  • Ardupilot.org is based on the Arduino single board computer, their site is well maintained and current. Some info from their 'About'

    Ardupilot is the most advanced, full-featured and reliable open source autopilot software available. It has been developed over 5+ years by a team of diverse professional engineers and computer scientists. It is the only autopilot software capable of controlling any vehicle system imaginable, from conventional airplanes, multirotors, and helicopters, to boats and even submarines. And now being expanded to feature support for new emerging vehicle types such as quad-planes and compound helicopters.

    Installed in over 1,000,000 vehicles world-wide, and with its advanced data-logging, analysis and simulation tools, Ardupilot is the most tested and proven autopilot software. The open-source code base means that it is rapidly evolving, always at the cutting edge of technology development. With many peripheral suppliers creating interfaces, users benefit from a broad ecosystem of sensors, companion computers and communication systems. Finally, since the source code is open, it can be audited to ensure compliance with security and secrecy requirements.

    The software suite is installed in aircraft from many OEM UAV companies, such as 3DR, jDrones, PrecisionHawk, AgEagle and Kespry. It is also used for testing and development by several large institutions and corporations such as NASA, Intel and Insitu/Boeing, as well as countless colleges and universities around the world.

    page.
    • their wiki is extremely detailed
  • 3DR.com is a commercial company specializing in drones for the AEC Industry (architecture, engineering and construction), they offer SaaS solutions but claim all their software is open source.
    • their Github page lists many projects but seems to be 'closed'"This organization has no public members. You must be a member to see who’s a part of this organization. "

Videos

Video by Dave Dorhout, presenting a planting bot called Prospero

  • set video to start at 1 min. 11 sec (before this it addresses the history of farming)
  • more about Prospero can be found on:
  • Why this project is interesting:
    • "Prospero is simple. Eschewing data-dense systems like GPS, Dorhout instead designed the Prospero bots to recall locations of seeds by simply talking to each other as they amble along. Following the model of ants, which mark places of interest (read: food) with pheromones so other ants can find them, he designed his 'bots to mark planted seeds with a shot of white spray paint that changes the reflectivity of the soil around the site. Other robots register this change in reflectivity, allowing them to see every seed in the field."


Farming Basics

Operations

  • Cultivation - Plowing, Discing, Cultivation, etc.
  • Spraying - crop protection application (liquid)
  • Planting - planting crops
  • Fertilizing - spreading (pellets) or spraying (liquid)
  • Harvesting - gathering the crop


See also: http://wikisuite.org/Building


Created by Mike Finko. Last Modification: Saturday 05 January, 2019 11:00:30 GMT-0000 by Mike Finko.

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