Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

November 15th, 2013

Robots: From the Greenhouse to the Fields

In this episode, Ron Vanderkley speaks with David Dorhout from Iowa State University about his Agricultural Robots that include Prospero the robot farmer and Aquarius the greenhouse watering robot.

Today’s agricultural equipment has been designed around a single farmer sitting on large machinery. This method has its drawbacks since farming decisions have to be made at the level of the field. Nature instead is chaotic and dynamic, soil nutrients and moisture change from foot to foot. A swarm of small robots like Prospero would have the ability to farm inch by inch, examining the soil before planting each seed and choosing the best variety for that spot. Ideally, this would maximize the productivity of each acre, allow less land to be converted to farm land, and ultimately feed more people.

Prospero is the working prototype of an Autonomous Micro Planter (AMP) that uses a combination of swarm and game theory to plant seeds at safe distances from one another.

Dorhout’s second agricultural robot Aquarius is a greenhouse robot that autonomously waters plants using its 30 gallon tank. The robot is programed using taping on the ground of the greenhouse.

David Dorhout
David Dorhout is a graduate of Iowa State University. He has always been interested in robotics and has 14 years of experience in the agriculture and biotech industry doing field and greenhouse discovery work. He is the founder of Dorhout R&D LLC which is a research and development business designing and building novel robotic systems and interactive consumer electronic devices.

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November 1st, 2013

Robots: Blue River Technology

In this episode Sabine Hauert speaks with Jorge Heraud, CEO of California-based startup Blue River Technology which brings together computer vision and robotics to automate agriculture. Their first robot LettuceBot targets the state’s #1 vegetable crop. Its task is to thin rows of lettuce in fields. This involves selectively removing some of the plants by spraying excess fertilizer on them, thereby avoiding overcrowding while fertilizing nearby plants. The tractor-mounted robot is already being rented out to farms across the state.

Heraud tells us about the challenges in robot vision and the rapid growth of Blue River Technology. He shares his hopes to apply their technology to other agriculture tasks and crops with different vision challenges. Finally he explains how this technology will transform the classical workforce on farms.

Jorge Heraud
Jorge Heraud is CEO of Blue River Technology. Before co-founding the company with Lee Redden, a fellow graduate student at Stanford University, Heraud worked in precision agriculture as Director of Business Development at Trimble Navigation. At Stanford he completed an MBA at the Graduate School of Business.

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October 18th, 2013

Robots: FutureDairy

FutureDairy is an R&D development program to help Australian dairy farmers manage the challenges they are likely to face during the next 20 years. In this episode, Ron Vanderkley speaks with the project lead Kendra Kerrisk from the University of Sydney about robotic milking and herding.

As one of the big challenges is the availability of labor and associated lifestyle issues in the dairy industry, FutureDairy’s focus is on automatic milking systems. While robotic milking technology is now in wide use overseas, there’s less experience with automatic milking in grazing-based farming systems such as in Australia. The video below summarizes some of the results from the DeLaval pilot farm in Australia.

With increasing numbers of Australian dairy cows now being milked by robots, researchers are looking at a range of exciting ways to use robots on the farm. One that has already shown promise is the use of robots (UGV) to herd cattle from the paddock to the dairy. In the videos below you can see two trials with the Shrimp rover hearding cows in Australian farms.

FutureDairy 3 is sponsored by Dairy Australia, the University of Sydney, the NSW Department of Primary Industries and DeLaval.

Kendra Kerrisk
Kendra Kerrisk is Faculty of Veterinary Science at the The University of Sydney in Australia. Kerrisk developed a strong interest for the Dairy Industry whilst conducting undergraduate and post-graduate studies at Massey University in New Zealand and has remained a leader in the field since then. During her PhD at the University of Melbourne she studied Peri-parturient Management for Large Dairy Herds using Controlled Breeding Programmes. After her PhD, she worked for Dexcel (formerly Dairying Research Corporation) in New Zealand on the world’s first pasture-based Automatic Milking System research farm. Through her academic life, she has contributed significantly to the national and international knowledge regarding application of Automatic Milking Systems (AMS) with pasture-based dairying. One of the highlights of the work conducted within FutureDairy, a project which she leads, has been the co-development of the world’s first Robotic Rotary (Automatic Milking Rotary, DeLaval AMRTM). This internationally recognized work will increase the feasibility of robotic milking for large dairy herds that are more common within the Australian and New Zealand industries.

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August 10th, 2012

Robots: Field Robotics - Transcript

In this episode, we talk to Salah Sukkarieh, Director of Research and Innovation at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR). He gives us an overview of the centre’s past and present projects, many addressing the special conditions robotics faces in Australia.

Salah Sukkarieh

Salah Sukkarieh is the Director of Research and Innovation of the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) and the Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at the University of Sydney in the School of Aerospace. He received his Honours in BE Mechatronics Engineering in 1997 and his PhD in 2000 at the University of Sydney.

Field robotics focuses on systems that work in outdoor environments. Having been the principal research and development lead on many of the autonomous systems projects, Sukkarieh tells us about work done at the ACFR in aerospace, aviation, agriculture, mining and autonomous transport. Given the ripeness of the field, he also tells us about remaining future work and the potential for collaborations with industry.

For more information, visit the centre’s youtube channel.

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November 4th, 2011

Robots: Made in Brazil

In today’s show, we take you all the way to Brazil. Marcelo Becker from the University of São Paulo (USP) talks to us about how mobile robots are going to help change agriculture, manufacturing and driving in his country. We then speak with Marcel de Sena Dall’Agnol a student at USP about the excellent robotics competition they organized at SEMATRON, which is a mechatronics conference organized by USP undergraduates.

Marcelo Becker

Marcelo Becker is Professor at the University of São Paulo, one of the top universities in Brazil. He directs the Mobile Robotics Lab that aims towards real-world applications with potential positive impact. His projects focus on agricultural mobile robots, educational robots, intelligent warehouses forklifts, quadrotors and autonomous cars with partner FIAT. More broadly, Becker discusses the growing interest for robotics in Brazil, public perception and the future of the field.

Before joining USP, Becker was Professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais (PUC Minas) where he was also the co-head of the Mechatronics Engineering Department and of the Robotics and Automation Group (GEAR). He also was visiting Professor at the Autonomous System Lab (ASL) at the EPFL in 2006.

Marcel de Sena Dall’Agnol

Marcel is a third year student in EECS at the University of Sao Paolo. This year he was one of the organizers of SEMATRON VII, a week-long series of activities directed towards students in Mechatronic Engineering in São Carlos and nearby cities. During the week, students at the University of São Paulo have their lessons suspended in order to fully participate in the event which offers lectures, courses, a cultural activity and technical visits to companies. The event is one of the largest of the kind in Brazil, with around 500 participants. Internationally renowned companies such as FIAT, National Instruments, Embraer and Petrobrás have sponsored the event in past editions.

In this interview, we will be talking about one of the main attractions, the robotics competition. During the one-day event, students gather around robotic kits made by local company PNCA. The kits let students build robots from scratch and come with an easy-to-use programming interface. The task this year, inspired from the Fukushima disaster, was to retrieve victims from a nuclear power plant while avoiding hazards.

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