A six-armed agricultural robot named StickBug is in a hurry to help farmers – it will soon begin pollinating plants in several greenhouses in West Virginia. Now, by hiring this agricultural robot, farmers can greatly simplify their lives.
StickBug robot is developed by researchers at West Virginia University with funding from the USDA. Using computer vision algorithms, the agricultural robot will map the room and determine where the flowers are on the plants and which ones need to be pollinated.
“We expect it to act in a coordinated manner using multiple hands,” said Yu Gu, professor of engineering at West Virginia University and project leader. – Let’s say the flower is behind a branch. He can push it aside with one hand and pollinate the flower with the other.
This is not an easy task for the robot, but this is exactly what the researchers who have been working on it for four years wanted to achieve. The project received $ 750,000 in funding through the government’s National Robotics Initiative. According to Gu, the development will contribute to the development of robotics and agriculture.
The StickBug concept is based on Gu’s previous work, the BrambleBee robot that pollinated blackberries and raspberries. It was designed to prove that machines can handle high-precision pollination, that is, cover each flower individually.
StickBug will also help speed up the pollination process to meet production needs. The BrambleBee only had one arm, and the StickBug had six, which meant it could handle a lot of flowers at once.
In addition, StickBug agricultural robot is suitable for farmers who do not have specialized knowledge of robots. Gu and his team want to develop an inexpensive machine that can be easily incorporated into the growing process. The availability of the robot will help farmers buy it in order to use it effectively.