The field of agriculture, one of the oldest for modern civilization, has seen constant technological advancement over the centuries – from hybrid crops to advanced machinery, and now robots. When it comes to talking about robots in agriculture, the first that come to mind are drones, commonly used by field owners to aerially monitor crops.
However, Georgie Tech Professor, Jonathan Rogers has come up with an interesting new robot that can be used to aerially monitor crops. The sloth-inspired robot swings around on overhead wires strung above fields to monitor growing crops. Because of its Tarzan-esque motion, albeit much slower and looking nothing alike, the robot has been named just that.
Tarzan is built with carbon fiber arms, reinforced with aluminum. Each arm has a dc motor at its base, and the shafts of those motors are coupled to each other. A bearing on the coupling shaft keeps the payload pod attached securely, while also allowing it to hang parallel to the ground irrespective of the orientation of the arms.
The robot’s hands are 3D-printed grippers with sensors that can detect and grip the wire passing through them. Rogers and his fellow developers are working on perfecting the sloth-like motion because of its energy efficiency, however, the momentum required for the free arm to swing over and grip the wire is tricky, as is evident from the video. The motion is smooth sometimes, and takes a few tries at other times. Until perfected, it’ll be tricky and time consuming to use this robot for taking stable pictures.
The idea behind a suspended robot is to monitor crops and identify badly performing ones for farmers so that they can accordingly supply more water, pesticide or fertilizer. But apart from the primary reason it was built for, what is intriguing is what these robots could be used for in other fields like on electric wires for aerial real time street viewing, on wires over soccer fields to aerially view matches, or simply on public spaces. These robots could potentially revolutionize area monitoring, spearheading the shift from stationary cams attached to a pole to overhead moving cams.