Farm robots are getting smaller and cleverer, with autonomous machines able to count fruit on trees, spray weeds, and even herd cows.
Created at the University of Sydney to address on-farm labour shortages and increase efficiencies and productivity on smaller farms, the so-called “ag-bots” are forging a future on the Aussie workforce.
Many have been in development for years, but recent advances in the accuracy of component technology, coupled with lower prices, has driven innovation.
The lightweight Ladybird can travel very slowly through fields, down to a crawling speed, stop at individual plants and apply herbicide with pinpoint precision on to the leaves.
Fruit robots equipped with sensors and lasers, which help them build a three-dimensional picture of an orchard to detect and count flowers and fruit, generate maps to enable growers to maximise output from their acreage.
Other ag-tech projects under way at the university include a pair of rovers christened Mantis and Shrimp, which can be used to herds groups of 20-150 cows by remote control.
This video from New Scientist shows the ag-bots in action.