Uses for multi-purpose crop robot to be investigated at Lincoln

Researchers at the University of Lincoln have begun trials of an agricultural robotic platform which has a range of potential applications in protected and outdoor growing.

Image: NMBU
Image: NMBU

The Thorvald robot was developed by the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) and manufactured by Saga Robotics in Norway, where trials have already demostrated its ability to shine ultraviolet light onto strawberries to reduce mildew as it travels along rows.

NMBU PhD student Lars Grimstad said: "It's simply a platform on wheels, a tool carrier, that you can remotely move to work in a given area."

The robot was delivered to the university's Lincoln Centre for Autonomous Systems last week.

Earlier this year Norway's agriculture minister Jon Georg Dale gave a thumbs-up to the robot platform and even tried his hand at controlling it during a visit to NMBU.

Thorvald is a prototype low-cost and lightweight device with potential applications ranging from autonomous precision seeding to weeding and harvesting, NMBU associate resarcher Pål Johan From explained.

"It is battery driven and has four powerful electric motors which makes it capable of performing work in the field. Four-wheel steering makes it extremely mobile. The frame is flexible, which guarantees that all four wheels are in contact with the ground at all times for optimal traction. The robot can operate up to 10 hours without charging or changing its batteries."

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