Introduction to Sparky the FarmDogg


Hello DIY Drones community!

I am Melissa Brandao, creator of the FarmDogg and Founder/CEO of Rogue Rovers. We're based in Southern Oregon in the amazing Rogue Valley. This is really new for me, but I am really happy to be a part of this DIY drone community. Sharing is exciting and scary all at the same time but, I got some encouraging words from one of the most amazing individuals in tech today--Chris Anderson of 3D so here we go!!


The FarmDogg is an all terrain, electric, semi-autonomous vehicle for specialty farming, This is our prototype Sparky.

 "Sparky" was just made his SF debut the MakerCon event this week.

I'm always happy to expound on why we are building Sparky--but to keep it short and sweet. Ag vehicles, tractors, ATVs are ridiculously dangerous and haven't seen any real innovation in design since they were created. In the case of the tractor you only need watch tractor fails on youtube to know that there's a big problem. It's not just the structural soundness it's the fact that farmers work on and off these machines and in close proximity. Multitasking in a car is never a good idea but we do it with some level of confidence knowing that 99.9% of the time the surface is steady and the car is designed for smooth straight and fast.

In farming you face a wide array of multitasking in ever-changing envrionments--operating equipment, checking plants, human interaction with the machines-obstacles, terrain changes, etc.

Likewise with ATVs/Quads which have become the ubiquitous machine of choice for many farmers as the rows between crops get narrower are heavily used and not really that right for the job.

ATVs emerged from motorcycles--a la the 3-wheeler, but that straddle seating design has remained even into four wheels. The high center of gravity, short wheelbase and track and continued increase in overall weight combined with that straddle seating design makes it nearly IMPOSSIBLE to free yourself if you get into trouble and feel the vehicle start to go. When the ATVs get loaded up with equipment in front and rear that difficulty just increases exponentially.3689650598?profile=original

Anyway, this was the thinking behind the FarmDogg. Make something better--safer, more sustainable and then add a bunch of smart systems so that we can help to improve farm efficiency and safety at the same time!!

We built the FarmDogg from the ground up as an all electric vehicle so we could

1) entirely control the packaging design (ie. eliminate the straddle seating)

2) entirely control the powertrain (stabilize speeds, robotize it)

3) improve accuracy of data collection by reducing noise, emissions, vibration

4) modular-ize the design so that we can provide open source design to farmers that want to build their own racking

Sparky currently has:

-2 KLD hub motors in the rear with 10Kw of power.

-2 KLD 3.2 kwhr batteries on board

-2 sevcon Gen 4 controllers

-and a lot of other bits and pieces like 12volt, USB, 120 volt charging, waterproof handsfree bluetooth audio (a crowd fav--it's way better listening to music than an engine for hours on hours)

Now that the event is over Sparky is heading back into the garage for some well needed updates and to start working on the robotics integration. First we're replacing the existing motorcycle steering with a cool little Formula 1 steering system we are designing with the use of the original modifications and engineering.

We'll be adding:

-sevcon auto steer

-honda odyssey fl250 steering which we're modding to include throttle, etc

-new steering mechanism

We've got some work on the front end to plan for hub motors for the all 4WD version.

We're going to use the ardu-pilot for rovers and I'm sure we'll have some tweaking to do between analog and digital com via CAN-Bus. 

We're also going to bring in some audio commands because of our whole "doggnition" thing, which you can read more about on our website--and I'll write about later...

Please feel free to share and discuss. I'll be posting more updates as we get going--feel free to contact me we're on twitter @roguerovers facebook and instagram too with the same moniker roguerovers 

(though I'm thinking i'll probably set up a page for sparky as he goes through this amazing transformation. 


Melissa Brandao

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  • Hi Matthew, I would love to collaborate on seeding so I'll let you know what we decide to do and let's stay in touch it's likely to get more traction as we start supporting more implements. I've been heard from several Canadian farmers so far you guys seem ahead of the curve! :) Cheers, Melissa

  • Melissa, very interesting your project, I was thinking  lerning about Rovers to aplying cebos autonomously, but, for the moment too busy with flying ships, I follow your advances ;)

  • Seeding technology hasn't really changed that much over time. For the most part it's been a process of adding sensors to aid in the control of very basic systems. If you decide to go ahead with the competition let me know I would be happy to talk seeding tech. I'm a farmer in Canada BTW. Also I 100% agree that semi autonomous is an advantage. At least on my land there is an awful lot of variability where an experienced operator is hard to replace.
  • Chris, I checked out the AgBot competition, that's pretty cool! The challenge for us would be in building a seeder for row crops applications. We know the specialty farming industry orchards, vineyards etc. much better. But that's not to say FarmDogg wouldn't be awesome. IMHO having it be semi-autonomous (aka the seat for carrying a human) is going to be an advantage for using the FarmDogg just to be able to monitor and manage the progress of the rover as its working. 

  • Jack, you've got a pretty cool name yourself. Rocket''s a great name for a Dogg in general. 

    Grant, awesome thank you for your intro and yeah, there will be some "helping" going on for sure. :)

  • Developer

    Hi Melissa.  I'm Grant the Rover software maintainer.  An Ag electric quad bike designed for improved safety and automation is a fantastic project.  We would love to hear further details regarding the design and planned integration with the Rover code.  Be sure to keep us posted and let us know if you have any questions - we are only too happy to help.

    Thanks, Grant.

  • Should be called Rogue Rocket Rovers

  • 3D Robotics

    The AgBot competition, starting now, seems like a good fit for this rover. 

  • Hi Gary

    I can't give you any insight into KLD pricing, we really like their motors' design and they've been steady partners for us while we develop our FarmDogg the last year. We don't use the OneDrive because we needed the motors in the hubs not along the axle so we went with their original hub motors.

    We're firm on $10K for a basic unit for an electric FarmDogg--we want to make them available at a fair price and build on mechanical and digital platform. They are super modular so servicing, component swap-outs and upgrades are easy. We liked the idea of a farmer keeping the FarmDogg for 20 years and just continuing to upgrade components and other stuff as needed--why put a ton of energy into building a solid durable product only to see it chucked out after 5 years? (we're all big fans of the willy jeeps and their amazing versatility) We liked the idea of "planned unobsolescence."

    At MakerCon this week Chris Anderson nailed it on the head when he said--once our vehicles are connected, they are no longer getting old, they renew themselves. That really is what we're all about with the FarmDogg.

    Our supply chain guy has a tough job, but he's up for the challenge! ;)

  • Hi Melissa,

    I have been fascinated by electric vehicles of all types for many years.

    I think that small electric ATV type vehicles can certainly be of use in many agricultural scenarios, especially with the increase in Photovoltaics on farms making for economical recharging.

    And the potential for autonomous operation can eventually be a great boon as well.

    Looking at KLD's website, the only thing that seems to be currently available is their "One Drive" system with motors, batteries and controller which seems to list for about $9800.00 by itself, so I am very intrigued by the fact that you are offering Farm Dogg at $10,000.00. (which seems a very fair price in any case).

    Please explain.

    Best regards,


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