World’s Fastest Picking Robot: Quattro

One of the many challenges in imagining how robotics can aid organic farming is the question of Why. Why should technologies intervene in age-old production techniques? Isn’t modern organic farming a direct response and alternative to industrial food production?

These are great questions, and ones that I am sure this project will have to grapple with time and time again.

The introduction of the Quattro robot – billed the world’s fastest robot – this past week is for me ample reason to pursue this line of inquiry. It seems clear that as technologies geared toward industrial production accelerate, organic farming would be well served by creating small-scale, eco-friendly technologies to help ease the workload.

More on Quattro:

“The Quattro robot is the fastest robot in the world and its advantages over conventional robots not only include faster cycles and settling times but increased payload and more consistent performance throughout the workspace,” said Rush LaSelle, director of global sales and marketing for Adept Technology, Inc. – Adept Technology press release


Bolivian Students Prototype Agribot


Students in Bolivia prototyped a robot they designed to help indigenous farmers moderate their soil chemicals. Reports the University of New Mexico:

Sergio ValencÍa Cordova, Rodrigo López and Sergio Saavedra from the Universidad Privada Boliviana presented their automated agricultural robot as part of the student competition at the Ibero-American Science and Technology Education Consortium (ISTEC) conference taking place on campus this week.

The robot is a prototype that could be used to plot map points on a field, and drill into soft soil to examine what nutrients need to be added for efficient agriculture. The students say the government could buy the robots for villages around the country and local farmers could borrow the robots to tell them exactly how much nitrogen or potassium should be added to support a particular crop.

Sorry for the tiny photo.

Autonomous Agriculture Robots via Fuji

Autonomous Agriculture Robot

In the field of giant autonomous robotics designed for agriculture, we have

Robots now enter the agriculture industry, too. First the award-winning rice-transplanting robot, now this: Major Japanese conglomerate Fuji Heavy Industries has developed an agricultural robot that can tend fields autonomously.

The company says the robot is the first of its kind. It runs on gas and is 2m long, 60cm wide and 1m high. It emits and receives laser signals to orient itself, gauging the distance to special reflective plates (which are placed at regular intervals of about 10 meters).

Fuji Heavy says the robot can grow fruit and vegetables independently, and it can even be used inside greenhouses. The company plans to start selling the machine next fiscal year for around $100,000.

$5,000 for a Used (parts) Robot

eBay would like some publicity. In exchange for YOU building a robot out of parts that you could feasibly purchase on eBay (a rather loose parameter), you might have the chance to win $5,000!

$5,000 of course being .000002 percent of eBay’s third-quarter revenue. [sourcing that.]

So if you happen to be building a robot n-e-ways, I suggest giving old eBay a chance to take a gander at it and give you a little something for your trouble.

[Crossposted on Speculative Design]

Robots in the Garden


Welcome to the first in a series of posts regarding existing research in garden robotics. This section of the blog will be used to highlight and synopsize relevant research and projects. Most of which will not feature very pretty ladies from the past and their robot friends.

Introducing the growBot project

What happens when two groups who have never talked before share conversation space? What ideas grow out of that generative process? What processes of guidance and mediation guide disparate individuals, communities, and specialized knowledge holders to fruitful imaginations of how technology can impact community? How best can we focus this conversation space towards a specific goal: speculation regarding DIY small-scale robotics technologies and their impact on local organic farming systems?

Fall is a season of harvest; winter a time to plan for the coming spring.

Growbotics falls naturally into this rhythm, and for the Fall 2009 semester the project will focus on three core actions.

• Existing Body of Technical Knowledge
• Conversation Stakeholders
• Georgia Tech Policies regarding Symposiums

• Space for Community Dialogue (this website!)
• Conversation Guidelines for Spring Researchers
• Materials to Guide Conversations (including promotional materials for community repurposing)

• WITH TECHNOLOGISTS: regarding existing projects and availability
• WITH GROWERS: about technology’s potential, about problems that could be solved using technology, about best practices and communication structures
• WITH ATL: about the growbots existence, through various events designed to promote

Georgia Tech’s Demo Day in the Digital Media department [RSVP] provides a natural break in this development; allowing for a nuanced assessment of future paths. How effective were the communication strategies developed? What additional research is necessary? How can the inclusion of additional parties impact the project’s development? What new items need to be created in order to make the growBot Symposium a success?