Friday, December 15, 2017

Mars robot technology could improve crop yields on Earth

June 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Machinery

Agrirover

A system developed to explore Mars has been transformed into an agricultural monitoring device for testing soil quality – with potential to reduce the environmental impact of farming.

The device consists of a mobile rover platform with a robotic arm which carries a soil sensing instrument. It is based on technology developed by STFC’s RAL Space and will be used in a new project being run by a team at the University of Strathclyde.

Working with partners in the UK and China, Strathclyde researchers hope to demonstrate the feasibility of the device’s farming potential by using an integrated, force feedback-controlled robotic system on the ground.

The project for the device, known as the AgriRover, is funded through the UK Space Agency’s International Partnerships Space Programme. Space systems engineer Aron Kisdi said the researchers had to tackle multiple challenges for the project to be successful.

“First we have to miniaturise an instrument that is normally the size of a large wardrobe to fit on a small mobile robot so the measurements can be completed on-the-go. Second we are looking for nitrogen based fertiliser that can take multiple forms and is hard to measure accurately.”

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