Clemson Scientists Designing Robots to Fill Ag Labor Gap
As the agricultural workforce shrinks in the United States and other major markets around the world, some Clemson University researchers believe robots may help provide a means to protect food and fiber industries.
A group of them studying the use of robots in agriculture recently met with researchers from other universities and representatives from Clearpath Robotics to learn about programs and hardware that are available to equip robots to work in agricultural crops.
“Robots are becoming more integrated into the manufacturing industry,” said Joe Mari Maja, a research sensor engineer at Clemson’s Edisto Research and Education Center. “Though most of the manufacturing environment is not as complicated as the outdoor environment, recent advances on sensors and technology provide an interesting outlook on how robots will be working outdoors with humans.”
Using small unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) or mobile ground robots with navigation sensing provides a platform to increase farm management efficiency, Maja said. The platform can be retrofitted with different components to perform specific tasks, such as spraying, scouting, remote-sensing, quantifying plant properties and harvesting.