Collaborative robotics in agriculture for sustainable management of crops

Smart Machine for agricultural solution in high-tech farming, SMASH, aims to create a collaborative, modular and integrated robotic ecosystem for monitoring and sustainable management of agricultural crops, oriented to the application of Precision Agriculture. The project will provide the technological tools to address and solve some problems concerning food safety (e.g. nitrates) and environmental sustainability (e.g. pesticides) of various types of crops, starting from 2 case studies: vines and vegetables. The robotic ecosystem will consist of different modules: a terrestrial mobile unit (AgroBot), a soil monitoring unit (Plantoid), a flying unit (FlyBot) and a fieldside service unit (AncillaryBot). The SMASH system will integrate ICT technologies for the coordination of the various modules and for the processing and management of the data acquired through sensors and actuators of various kinds (e.g. vision systems, photonic sensors, …) as well as chemical/physical analyses performed/assisted directly on board vehicles / on the pitch in real-time. The SMASH project combines the excellence of Research and Industry present in Tuscany, with a view to devising new integrated robotic and sensor systems that allow:

  • manage on-site the agronomic problems of crops in terms of monitoring and analytical control (e.g. analysis of the soil, the content of minerals and organic compounds in the leaves and fruits, etc.);
  • to carry out operations for the management of modulated crops based on the monitoring performed (e.g. targeted administration of products);
  • to carry out elementary operations, such as sampling and collection of samples, in a targeted and georeferenced way, to integrate traditional laboratory analytical procedures.

The data collected by the SMASH robotic ecosystem will be transmitted to a cloud platform and will be processed with appropriate statistical and chemometric tools, in order to “translate” the data (simple or complex data, such as numbers, absorption spectra, emission spectra, chemical analysis, …) in “information” useful to experts for crop management, with a view to having a decision support tool.

The communication of “information” to end-users (end-users) will be carried out with modern ICT Smart tools, in order to make the robotic and telematic ecosystem usable/usable, using simple tools such as smartphones and tablets.