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A Growing Presence on the Farm: Robots

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A Robot Driving Through Fields

Not only can the TerraSentia navigate under dense crop canopies, it can make many observations about plant health and yield as it drives through fields.

Credit: Institute for Genomic Biology/University of Illinois

Agronomists are using new autonomous robots to help them breed better crops. One example is the TerraSentia robot developed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Girish Chowdhary.

The wheeled machine is equipped with a camera, and navigates by laser-scanning its environment in order to collate a wealth of information on crop fields and automate measurement of plant phenotypes. By making plant phenotyping more reliable, researchers hope TerraSentia and similar machines can optimize crop yields with greater efficiency than humans.

Said Neil Hausmann at Corteva, a spin-off of agricultural giants Dow Chemical and DuPont, “There’s definitely a niche for this kind of robot. It provides standardized, objective data that we use to make a lot of our decisions. We use it in breeding and product advancement, in deciding which product is the best, which ones to move forward and which ones will have the right characteristics for growers in different parts of the country.”

From The New York Times 
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