World’s largest agri robot being tested in the US

World’s largest agri robot being tested in the US
The 30t Field Scanalyzer, which is the size of a football field and has been described as the world’s largest agriculture robot, is currently being tested in the Arizona desert in the US. Photo: Rothamsted Research

Researchers from Rothamsted Research, headquartered in the UK, are currently testing the latest in artificial intelligence for farming, the world’s largest agricultural robot called the Field Scanalyzer.

This international research centre focuses on strategic agricultural science, and trials on the Field Scanalyzer are currently being undertaken in the Arizona desert in the US, where it sends 10 terabytes of data/day to the centre’s computers for analysis, according to the Wall Street Journal.

According to the journal, every day, the Field Scanalyzer lumbers over two acres (about 0,8ha) of crops, including sorghum, lettuce and wheat.

The research team, comprising plant scientists and computer experts, described the 30t robot as a “platform that can produce a detailed description of canopy development across the crop’s entire lifecycle, with a high-degree of accuracy and reproducibility”.

The project was initially funded by the US government, and the robot, which is the size of a football field, measures 70ft high (about 21,3m), 92ft wide (28m), and 1 200ft (366m) long, the researchers said in a report on the Rothamsted Research website.

The tall metal structure supports a motorised measuring platform with multiple sensors, and is capable of monitoring crops within a 15m x 120m area. It is also fully automated and able to operate 24 hours/day throughout the year.

The machine facilitates data collection through sensors that simultaneously and non-destructively analyses of plant growth, morphology and physiology, and the data obtained provides a detailed report about the plants’ growth and vigour.

The robot was designed to cope in harsh environments, and could handle high sampling frequency and accuracy, the researchers said.

According to analysts, robotic devices such as the Field Scanalyzer would eventually play an important role in precision agriculture.

Advancements in robotics, cameras and sensors, were aimed at collecting data through a network of sensors spread out over all the fields on a farm.

This also included the use of drones for monitoring, as well as precision irrigation, and pest control.