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kdwyer
11-12-2007, 07:57 PM
Plenty of time 'til Spring...
Has anyone worked up a design for a garden-type agri-bot? Seems to me it would be the perfect chore for a bot.
Start with a wireless dog-type fence, the kind where a buried wire demarcates limits/rows etc. Add in electric tether coupled with a hose for liquid fertilizer/pesticide/water, throw in some solar ability (charger?) and a host of weather sensors, some data-logging capability, very low speed/high torque drive motors (no need for speed!) Oh, and LOTS of weather-proofing!
All this could easily be run off an old PC with a mutli-IO card.
I'm sure there are business-scale bots designed for this, but I'm aiming a bit lower, at the garden market.
Has anyone tried this recently? And what were your major hurdles?

Or have I just gone bot-happy? ;)

BTW, this is still in the 'ideating' stage. It all sounds do-able, no great technical leaps here, just an implementation of an idea.
This may well have to wait (budgetary reasons) until Spring anyway.
One tech worry: even with extensive weather-proofing, would repeated heat/cool cycles cause condensation/corrosion in vital parts? Extensive use of plastics and rubber in construction would help, but necessary metal moving parts might have a limited lifespan. Most bots I've seen aren't meant for 24/7 exposure to the elements.
A big attraction point of this would be its' 'setup and forget it' thing. But if it corrodes to junk in a month, that kind of shoots it down.
Anyone with experience in harsh continuous conditions? There has GOT to be a better way.
(I must be the laziest bot builder in the world!)

Dave
11-13-2007, 12:21 PM
Cool idea. The invisible fence would work well for guiding yard work robots. As an added bonus, it could keep your dog out of the garden.

Alex
11-13-2007, 04:08 PM
I think that's a great idea kdwyer!

Honestly, I don't think I've heard of a single person/company creating something like this. I've heard of some ful scale farming systems, but not a smaller scale garden model.

Needless to say, we're here to help ya out with any questions!

Just be sure to post the project in the contest (http://www.trossenrobotics.com/contest.aspx);)

Tymtravler
11-14-2007, 07:00 AM
Now you got me thinking kdwyer, Started playing with an old IRobot vacuum robot last night. Going to beef up the wheels and put a small motor and battery on the front, with a weed wacker head on it. Sure beats 5K for the other mower robot. Something to do for fun, but who knows how big it may get.

Tymtravler

sthmck
11-14-2007, 09:23 AM
Funny that you mention using an underground fence to contain the robot. I was just thinking about starting a project using the fence. I already have the fence installed, so if I get a little time, and of course extra cash I think this would be a cool project to work on. All together a very cool idea.

kdwyer
11-14-2007, 07:50 PM
Ah, if I only had enough money and time for all my cool ideas LOL.
The doggy-fence thingy always sounded so neat, and Fido just can't appreciate it.
I've given some thought to the weatherproofing, and I think lotsa tubes of silicon caulking would work. Somewhat. I've also thought that a small heater element mounted inside, thermally set to turn on to avoid condensation, might also work. Or toast it.
On another tack, rather than roll on the ground, maybe a gantry-type setup might be more efficient. Kind of like, build a small framework over and around the garden and have the bot rove OVER the whole area. Might be a good support for chicken-wire to keep larger pests away too. And if this framework had wheels it could be adapted to be mobile over a larger area as the garden gets bigger. Either push it manually or add motors.
Endless ideas from an endlessly demented mind.

Tymtravler
11-15-2007, 07:23 AM
Agri-Bot would make life easier for a lot of people. I see you are working to weatherproof and detain you robot in your yard, also have you considered a robot recharging system? I think you will find some good info from a robot lawn mower. Check out http://www.friendlyrobotics.com/roboMow (http://www.friendlyrobotics.com/oboMower) they have a robot that has alot of features you are looking for, ( I gave up on the IRobot Vacuum idea). It has the electronic fence, auto charging system, weatherproof, I am sure you could pickup and old model on ebay and start building what you want off of that platform, no reason reinventing the wheel on the base unit.

Good Luck
Tymtravler