Flexible robots for intelligent automation of precision agriculture operations (FLEXIGROBOTS)

Agricultural robotics solutions can integrate a variety of robots for a variety of monitoring and targeted intervention tasks, to increase farm productivity, efficiency and sustainability through support of automated precision farming operations. Despite the rising farmer investment in farm/agricultural robots, most deployable robotic systems are meant to automate only specific tasks. The wide variety of tasks that need to be fulfilled in a single precision agriculture operation or mission makes it extremely unprofitable to address its automation with task-specific robots.

These challenges result in a lack of flexibility of current heterogeneous multi robot systems that poses low returns on investment and high risks for farmers. In order to become cost-effective, heterogeneous multi-robot systems needs to become more flexible by employing more versatile (e.g. multi-task) robots which collaborate to accomplish complex missions; ensuring scalable human oversight and intervention through adaptive mission control mechanisms (e.g. without information overload/overwhelming effort from the farmer); allowing the farmer to profit from robotics operational data. FlexiGroBots proposes a Platform for developing heterogeneous multi-robot systems and applications which allows for

i) more versatility by using the same robots for different observation and intervention tasks, in different missions, throughout the crop life cycle,
ii) more cooperation between heterogeneous (ground and aerial) robots to accomplish more complex missions;
iii) more valuable data to generate accurate insights into the fields, crops and robotics operations by combining data from IoT sensors, satellites and data collected by the robots;
iv) more autonomy for real-time adaptation of mission plans as well as robot behavior at the crop level, given operational conditions and real-time insights;
v) more precision to carry out specific tasks in a very localized way, gaining accuracy and lowering costs.