CMU is developing an autonomous robot to fight the spotted lamppost

Spotted lamplight (Lycorma delicatula) is a serious invasive pest in northern India, in some parts of Southern China, Taiwan and Vietnam, Japan, South Korea and the USA, causing significant damage to crops such as apples, grapes and hops. To destroy the eggs of this pest, a team from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is developing a TartanPest robot.

Created by a group of CMU students, it consists of a Ufactory xArm6 robotic arm and a computer vision system installed on an Amiga electric microtractor manufactured by the California company Farm-ng. TartanPest is actually the team's application to participate in the Farm-ng 2023 Farm Robotics Challenge, the results of which will be announced in mid-September this year.

When the robot moves autonomously, TartanPest uses a computer vision system to search for a clutch of spotted lamppost eggs. This system uses a deep learning algorithm that has been trained on 700 photos of eggs, which are usually located on trees, rocks and other surfaces.

When detecting a clutch of eggs, the robot uses a rotating brush at the end of the manipulator to destroy it. Each clutch contains approximately 30-50 eggs, which are laid by the pest in autumn and hatched the following spring.

"Currently, spotted lamplighters are concentrated in the eastern part of the country, but according to forecasts, they can spread to the whole country," says TartanPest team member Carolyn Alex. "By investing in this problem now, we will avoid large costs in the future."

The basic Amiga four-wheel drive tractor, costing $12,990, weighs 145 kg, can carry a maximum payload of 454 kg, has a maximum speed of about 9 km/h and an autonomous life of three to eight hours on a single battery charge.

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