Automation in the world of agriculture

Originally Published in April 2017

Agribot is a machinery manufacturer that has invented a robot designed to work in orchards, vineyards and farms. The unmanned device, called Agribot, conducts accurate, efficient spraying, fertilizing and other agronomic tasks. By saving time and lowering labor costs, Agribot is a solution with the potential to change agriculture on a global scale.

After participating in international agricultural fairs and meetings with growers from Western European countries, Agribot’s inventors were inspired to bring automation to the world of farming. The device was designed by Łukasz Konarski, Adam Lichwa and Łukasz Rybarkiewicz, with assistance from professors at the Wrocław University of Technology and the Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences.

The Agribot company, based in the Wrocław Technology Park, started developing the prototype in June 2012 and currently has a fully functioning machine. Agribot was first showcased at the Agritechnica agriculture trade fair in Hanover, Germany. The team also presented the robot to the European Commission and U.S. officials. Agribot plans to present a ready-to-manufacture robot at Agritechnica in November 2017.

Agribot is a solution with the potential to change agriculture on a global scale.

With a precise location system that uses GPS, sensors and cameras, Agribot can maneuver between rows to spray plants, cut branches, fertilize soil and mow grass. Interchangeable attachments can be mounted onto the robot to perform additional tasks, such as soil-testing or automatic cutting. Agribot does not require a human operator or direct on-site supervision, so crops can be treated at any time of day or night – saving farmers time and protecting them from exposure to harmful chemicals.

There are two ways to set up the robot: it can be directed by remote control until it learns the route, driving parameters and various machine functions, or automatic configuration can be enabled, with the parameters of the orchard such as the number of rows, length of rows and the speed and movement of the machine. Agribot can be controlled remotely from a web browser or mobile application, as well as on-site with the operator’s control panel.

Equipped with an internal combustion engine and mounted on a crawler, the Agribot’s design provides power and stability on uneven terrain. Despite its size, the surface pressure of the track on the ground is similar to the pressure of a human foot—allowing Agribot to move over soft terrain without damaging plants’ root systems. With two suspension systems, the machine can perform two agrotechnical treatments at once, such as spraying and mowing. The robot can also irrigate fields in ways that protect plants from freezing during frosts. Its precision allows farmers to plant more shrubs or trees in a particular area, creating higher yields and profits.

Board Advisor Marek Lubas said that as people move toward larger cities, fewer are willing to live in the countryside and tend farms. “If you look at the number of people who are interested in agriculture, there are fewer hands to work in the fields. Our invention will optimize work while lowering costs.”