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Thread: Aquarius: The Greenhouse Watering Robot

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    Aquarius: The Greenhouse Watering Robot




    Hey everyone, Aquarius is a large robot that I built for use in
    greenhouses where each plant needs to be hand watered several times a day. I’ve
    been meaning to post it here for a while, but things keep getting busier.



    This robot was born out of a cost saving brain storming session at my old job
    where we evaluated transgenic plants for efficacy against insects in a high
    throughput discovery pipeline in a large greenhouse system. It was typical for
    our group to have several thousand transgenic plants in our system at any
    particular time. Because these were newly transformed plants, they were very
    susceptible to desiccation, and they were very valuable so extra care had to be
    given to make sure they were given the correct amount of water. Aquarius was
    built and demonstrated that it was capable of quickly and accurately measuring
    the soil moisture in each pot, calculate the correct amount of water to give the
    plant and then dispense that amount of water. Aquarius did all of this
    simultaneously on both sides without slowing down.


    Aquarius uses two Propeller chips for its main “brains”




    More information, pictures, etc. is on our website: http://dorhoutrd.com/aquarius_robot
    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2

    Re: Aquarius: The Greenhouse Watering Robot

    Cool. One robot can replace a large watering system, and it can be much more simple and flexible solution, than stationary system. Now the part of water spills by flowerpots. May be with some automation of water tubes with robotic manipulators controlled by video-tracking this can be solved, and these manipulators may serve for some additional tasks.

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    Re: Aquarius: The Greenhouse Watering Robot

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan_2013 View Post
    Cool. One robot can replace a large watering system, and it can be much more simple and flexible solution, than stationary system. Now the part of water spills by flowerpots. May be with some automation of water tubes with robotic manipulators controlled by video-tracking this can be solved, and these manipulators may serve for some additional tasks.
    Hey Dan, Thanks. We later fixed the water spilling problem by moving the nozzles back a little bit and slowing down the robot a little bit more. It was quite the ordeal to get permission from Legal for us to shoot what you saw (It's a research facility so there was a chaperon in the room making sure we didn't film anything we were not suppose to ), hopefully we'll get permission to film again, but it will probably take a few months.


    We intentionally went “low tech” with some of the systems so that the robot would be easier to maintain and operate by the greenhouse staff. We wanted them to be able to look at the robot and know exactly what was going on and how to set everything up correctly.

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  5. #4

    Re: Aquarius: The Greenhouse Watering Robot

    Quote Originally Posted by Vanmunch View Post
    Hey Dan, Thanks. We later fixed the water spilling problem by moving the nozzles back a little bit and slowing down the robot a little bit more. It was quite the ordeal to get permission from Legal for us to shoot what you saw (It's a research facility so there was a chaperon in the room making sure we didn't film anything we were not suppose to ), hopefully we'll get permission to film again, but it will probably take a few months.
    Hi Vanmunch. Sorry for a bit stupid advice I was not aware about your restrictions during getting this video Yes, this is not very difficult "bug".

    Quote Originally Posted by Vanmunch View Post
    We intentionally went “low tech” with some of the systems so that the robot would be easier to maintain and operate by the greenhouse staff. We wanted them to be able to look at the robot and know exactly what was going on and how to set everything up correctly.
    Yes, you right. I mean such cases like different height of flowerpots, but the easiest solution in this case is just to set tubes to be higher than highest of flowerpot.

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    Re: Aquarius: The Greenhouse Watering Robot

    Great work! Well done.

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    Re: Aquarius: The Greenhouse Watering Robot

    1. This is very cool!

    2. Why did you choose to build a robot instead of getting some drip irrigation hose and nozzles from the local home improvement store?

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    Re: Aquarius: The Greenhouse Watering Robot

    Hey Dan, I thought those were good suggestions, not stupid. You just didn’t know the entire situation or the reasoning.


    Quote Originally Posted by jwatte View Post
    1. This is very cool!

    2. Why did you choose to build a robot instead of getting some drip irrigation hose and nozzles from the local home improvement store?
    Good question, there are a few reasons why didn’t go with drip line from the local hardware store, but it basically came down to flexibility and accuracy. Drip irrigation works ok if you can make a couple of assumptions:

    • The plants do not have to move during their development
    • All of the plants require the same amount of water
    • The drip lines will not clog or you do not mind if you lose a few plants here or there


    Taking a step back I should mention that this research facility has over 500,000 sqft under glass. Some areas of the research facility use drip lines and other areas have completely automated rooms like the flower production greenhouses in the Netherlands. (Our group uses about 50,000 sqft.) For us, the biggest deal breaker for using drip lines is that our plants are constantly being shuffled around, within a room, between rooms and even different buildings. It’s not uncommon for a plant to be moved 12 times in its 3 month life. This means that each day our group moves about 300-500 plants within or between rooms.

    The second reason is that it is not uncommon for different plants within the same experimental group to have different growth rates and thus different water requirements. Those groups that have the widest separation also tend to be the most informative so it is imperative that each plant is watered according to its need.

    The third reason is that a lot of time and transformation resources have gone into each plant just to get it to the greenhouse so we can’t allow any plant to die accidentally. So if a drip line system were used, a person would still have to check each plant each day. To give some cost scale, about 100 of those plants cost the same to produce as the robot and each room has about 1,000 plants in it

    Dave

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    Re: Aquarius: The Greenhouse Watering Robot

    Wow, those are some pretty special plants!
    I wish I had a robot feeder to take care of my needs, too :-)

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