Updated 18 Jun, 2013, 8:58 pm IST
Modern Agriculture Through Robotics
| by Kamakshi S
Agriculture has been India's primary source of income and employment, and we have known this since our school days. Yet, very few technological applications have been directed towards the core process of farming. Most technological aids are in place for making better seeds, fertilizers and other chemical components.
The current technology available cannot be used across activities. Moreover, even the basic models are
too expensive to even acquire for the debt-ridden farmers. Thus the only traces of technology seen in
agriculture are tractors that are fit with rotavators for ploughing. Activities like seed sowing, fertilizer
spraying and weed removing continue to be carried on manually. Also, irrigation processes are hindered due to lack of power and shortage of continuous water supply. Sustainability of resources is the need of the hour, and hence alternative and renewable sources of energy, coupled with mechanization of time consuming activities will ensure better output. As a part of the recently concluded annual event from IIT Bombay called Techfest, young and budding engineers were asked to bring forth their initiatives and innovations of a competition called "Prayas- Utkarsh", especially in field of agriculture and rural technologies. One such initiative comes from K.S.R. Pramod, a B.Tech mechanical engineering student from Sreenidhi Institute of Science and Technology, Hyderabad, called the AGRIBOT.
AGRIBOT is a self-directed agricultural robot powered by solar energy. It can control various aspects of
farming like ploughing and leveling, seed sowing, irrigation, pest controlling, apart from on field surveillance using camera movement. The fourwheel unmanned vehicle which moves in a linear direction uses mobile application systems and a range of mechanical aspects to perform the task accurately and efficiently. The robot has two-main functionalities - to survey the crop growth and create an automated harvest mechanism. With the help of refined IT-Systems, crops can be planned and harvested with minimum waste, and it also creates a sense of harmony between manual and automated vehicles. The AGRIBOT, if produced on a commercial scale, will be as affordable as a tractor, and it will ensure less wastage and manpower, coupled with the solar powered energy panels, the cost of food production will fall drastically.
These are the whegs used for ploughing. They are placed at the front base of the AGRIBOT.
Although the bot travels only on a linear path, this limitation can be overcome by installing an obstacle detector circuit. Pramod says, "Since the bot traverses on rugged terrain like uneven field paths, the sensors receiving and transmission capacity and efficiency gets reduced. In order to overcome this particular problem, we have restricted our model’s trajectory only into a linear path." He goes on to add, "Moreover, the mechanism of the system is so simple that any layman can understand the principle behind it, so the implementation problems can be overcome. These features make this robotic system particularly adapted to replace humans from tiring and harmful tasks or operating in adverse environments."
Understanding the Electronic Design
The AGRIGOT has been designed in such a way that it consumes very little power. Apart from the solar panels, the bot uses LEDs as indicators, wherever required. Pramod explains to us the electronic design of the ARGIBOT. "The entire bot works with a power supply of 12 volts direct current (DC). The power is supplied with a DC battery of 12 volts. The battery is charged by the solar panel of 20 volts, delivering a power of 1 watt at 12 volts. This solar panel charges the battery online to the working of the system. The battery is protected from stray voltages and excess voltages by employing a special solar charger circuit. The circuit is IC based, which has a high efficiency in delivering the power from the panel to the battery. The battery voltage, either low or sufficient, is indicated using LEDs. The bot is fixed with seven DC motors.
This is the mechanism used for Seed insertion, after the AGRIBOT has finished ploughing the fields.
Their electrical specifications are as given below:
This is the water supply unit placed on the AGRIBOT. It comes with both an inlet and outlet to fill and disperse water.
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