Nothing to do with UAVs (and the "APM" thing is just a coincidence), but I thought I'd pass it along anyway as a great example of human/robot interaction. The autononous farm vehicle does the driving while the worker does the cutting. 

(via Missy Cummings)

Views: 534

Comment by Jack Crossfire on May 9, 2012 at 12:34am

The illegal immigrant labor unions will put an end to this.  Surprised no-one thought of using a cherry picker to pick cherries before. 

Comment by george on May 9, 2012 at 8:03am

With all of the advanced image recognition algorithms coming out I'm sure a robot to do the cutting isn't far behind. Open source farm weeding Roomba?

@Jack How do you think Monsanto feels about robots farming? Seems like it'd be hard to market that high yield GMO when someone like you and I can manage a huge farm on our own growing the good stuff.

Comment by Ellison Chan on May 9, 2012 at 9:01am

Monsanto won't care, as long as they can patent the IP, and sue anyone that tries to use anything similar.  Watch out DIYDrones.

Comment by Marcel Bergerman on May 9, 2012 at 2:50pm

Thanks for showcasing our work, Chris. The idea here is to augment the worker to make him/her more efficient. In timed trials at Penn State in Biglerville, PA, workers on the APM were up to 58% more efficient than those on ladders--not to mention the greater comfort and reduced fatigue. Ladders are the cause of 30% of WA state work-related injury claims, so eliminating them increases workers' quality of life and decreases farmers' costs. Readers can find a related video at our YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46t37LCBJoc.

Comment by Ellison Chan on May 9, 2012 at 3:05pm

Marcel, from a safety point of view, I notice that the robot tractors don't have indicator signals.  So the workers don't know when the bot is going to start moving, and in what direction.  Is there a chance that workers can get run over or is the bot equipped with enough sensors to avoid that possibility?

Comment by Marcel Bergerman on May 10, 2012 at 6:37am

Good question, Ellison. In our case, the laser scanner used to find the trees and navigate the vehicle also looks continuously for obstacles ahead and to the sides and stops the vehicle in case there is something there. In the video you saw here the laser is installed in a horizontal configuration, which means it doesn't "see" obstacles that are too low. This past fall we implemented and tested a better obstacle detection system using a laser tilted down; it can reliably detect and stop for people and bins, and will be integrated this summer. John Deere's autonomous tractors also use cameras to look for people and other objects and stop when appropriate.

When the technology becomes commercial, manufacturers will certainly include suggestions like your--turning signals to alert people of the vehicle's intended direction of motion--as well as auditory cues.

Comment by Ellison Chan on May 10, 2012 at 7:24am

Marcel, good to hear.  After all, any productivity gains, would otherwise be offset by on-job worker injuries.

Comment by Marcel Bergerman on May 10, 2012 at 7:29am

You are correct--and we are humbly trying to do both, increase efficiency and reduce accidents/injuries due to ladders.

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