Harvesting from Field, Tree and Vine - There are already a wide variety of crop harvesting machines that are ideal for potential automation. Engineers are already at work to develop technologies for delicate harvest work and autonomous traverse across the fields using the right robotic components with a blend of sensors and IoT connectivity, freeing the farmers for other tasks. One such example of crop harvesting prototype is Panasonic’s tomato-picking robot which includes advanced cameras and simulations to recognize the color, form and shape of the tomato and analyze its maturity if it is ready for harvest or not. Currently, the robot plucks tomatoes by the stem to avoid damage but the future scope involves the robot being capable of gripping the fruit tight enough for harvest but not much that could cause damage.
The vacuum-powered apple picking robot by Abundant Robotics is another prototype for fruit picking which uses computer vision to locate apples and determine its maturity. Not only these, but there is a dozen of upcoming robots that are expected to take over the harvesting labor by continuously patrolling fields, monitoring the plants with their sensors and harvesting the ripe ones as and when needed, robust internet of things (IoT) system being the backbone.
Drones for Imaging, Planting and More - Where a helicopter or small aircraft pilot is employed to fly over a photographic site, cameras-equipped drones now can generate the same photographs at a fraction of the cost. The cameras used are highly advanced with the capability of infrared, ultraviolet, hyperspectral imaging and record videos as well along with a bonus of increased image resolution. All these imaging abilities help in regularly performing field surveys, drafting a plan for seed planting patterns, irrigation, 2D and 3D location mapping and allows farmers to gather more detailed data using which they can optimize every aspect of land and crop management.
Planting from the Air - It isn’t just camera and imaging capabilities that would make a drone useful in smart farming, there are prototype drones being built and tested for their use in planting and spraying. Drone Seed and BioCarbon are examples of companies that are working on drones that can fire tree seeds at appropriate locations. With IoT and software for independent operation combined with GPS, laser measurement and ultrasonic positioning, crop spraying drones can adapt to heights, wind speeds, topography and geography, increasing the chances of faster growth and higher crop yield, thus, automating another labor-intensive task.