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The robot addressing labour shortages in farms

New Zealand-based agritech company, Robotics Plus, has launched a modular robot vehicle designed to alleviate labour shortages in agriculture and ultimately, transform the industry.

Robotics Plus has created a robot that is a multi-purpose Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV), a combination of vision systems and other technologies to optimise tasks and allow intelligent and targeted application of inputs such as sprays.

With the use of robotics and artificial intelligence, the UGV will allow growers to rotate between multiple tools and can be used for jobs such as spraying, weed control, mulching, mowing and crop analysis.

“We’ve created a flexible agricultural platform with the power to adapt to different crop types with tools for various applications, providing year-round automation benefits and maximizing machine utilisation,” says Steve Saunders, CEO and Co-founder of Robotics Plus.

To create the UGV, Robotics Plus worked alongside a world-class team of growers, researchers and technology suppliers to “deliver the unique modular architecture” of the UGV and can operate in a range of environments.

Some of the partners include Yamaha Motor Company, Autonomous Solutions Inc and Croplands.

“We’ve benefited from our partner’s deep knowledge and access to high-quality technology components,” says Saunders.

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He adds that the UGV has greatly benefitted from the partnerships that has allowed them to create the best in-class platform for the agriculture industry.

Steve Saunders.

“To adapt and thrive in a changing world and create a sustainable and competitive future in the agricultural and speciality tree crop sector – growers and orchardists need automation that solves real-world problems, reduces reliance on increasingly costly and hard -to-find machine operators and provides data-driven insights for informed decision making,” says Saunders.

The UGV is set to replace tractors and other tools while also improving growers’ efficiency.

Alongside being more convenient for growers, the UGV has a small footprint as a hybrid electrical diesel vehicle and has technology that improves productivity, “allowing significantly more ground to be covered than machines”.

“In addition, the vehicle’s lightweight design and intelligent all-wheel-drive system, with independent wheel motors to ensure grip and control – while significantly reducing ground compaction to protect the soil,” says Dr Alistair Scarfe, Co-founder and CTO of Robotics Plus.

In addition to the UGV, Robotics Plus has also created multiple systems for use in agriculture and automation for industries that are facing major labour shortages, rising costs and yield security.

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