Is Farming Ready for Robots?

Robot TractorStarting in 2009 we started seeing hints of robotic farming equipment.  Arduino forum user Lance posted about his automating a combine harvester.

Lance was able to get the harvester to stay within 3 inches of the desired path which is very good for homemade gear relying on GPS.

Now we are seeing several companies unveiling tractor concepts that don’t involve someone driving them.  Case IH and New Holland have both unveiled robotic concepts.

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Toyota’s Tiny Robot

Kirobi Mini

Kirobi Mini from Toyota

Toyota recently introduced a new robot called Kirobi Mini which you will be able to pre-order later this year in Japan.

The cost will reportedly be about $390.

Kirobi Mini will have a camera, microphone, Bluetooth and connect to a smartphone. It can responds to voices, but cannot recognize you.

General manager of the project Fuminori Kataoka stated

Toyota has been making cars that have a lot of valuable uses. But this time we’re just pushing emotional value.

The general idea for Kirobi Mini is a small companion robot you can take with you while driving.


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Ghost Minitaur Can Scale Fences

Ghost MinitaurA new dog like robot called Ghost Minitaur from Ghost Robotics in Philadelphia appears to be able to scale fences.  The excitable little robot can also climb stairs.

Ghost Minitaur weighs about 13 lbs, has a running speed of about 4 1/2 miles per hour and can vertically jump about 19 inches.

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CellBotCellRobot is a modular robot that you can configure into many different shapes. First, you start with the Heart and then add other cells that easily twist on and lock into place.  The Heart contains the CellRobot’s brain and Bluetooth connections.  You can also add on wheels, a camera or a mount for Mounting the robot to a desk or counter.

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Gearless Omni-directional Robot Leg

GOAT cad drawing

CAD drawing from Simon’s thesis.

Carnegie Mellon PhD student Simon Kalouche has created the  Gearless Omni-directional Acceleration-vectoring Topology or GOAT.

Using a custom motor controller and 3 DC Tiger U10 quadcopter motors, Simon has created a unique leg that is able to hop over 32 inches high.

If he put four legs together he could come up with a very impressive robot.  But as Simon states:

While the GOAT leg will most likely never be faster than the very impressive speeds achieved by the MIT Cheetah in running along a straight line, the design of GOAT sacri ces 1D top speed for the potential to run and jump in all 3 dimensions with more agility than the MIT Cheetah and all other dynamic legged robots to this date.

Check out the robot in action below.

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