View Full Version : Agri-bot?

11-12-2007, 08:57 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!)

11-13-2007, 01:21 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.

11-13-2007, 05:08 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);)

11-14-2007, 08:00 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.


11-14-2007, 10:23 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.

11-14-2007, 08:50 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.

11-15-2007, 08:23 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