For many years now, the bulk of discussion around unmanned systems in agriculture has been focused on UAVs. There have been swathes of media coverage about the revolution that aerial data capture could supposedly herald for farmers, and yet the uptake of agricultural survey UASs continues to fall short of predictions.
Today’s shortage of agronomists means scouting occurs sporadically, with perhaps only 2-5 percent of the field scouted, Soman notes. “When you miss the early stage of a disease, it can be difficult for the crop to recover.”
To fill the shortage, TerraSentia will roll through entire fields underneath the crop canopy taking videos for computer analysis to determine recommendations for fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.
Traveling autonomously between crop rows, the robot measures the traits of individual plants using a variety of sensors, including cameras, transmitting the data in real time to the operator’s phone or laptop computer. A custom app and tablet computer that come with the robot enable the operator to steer the robot using virtual reality and GPS.