Robotics

Video: Tarzan the Crop Monitor and Other Robotic Roles

12 April 2017

Robotics technology is on a roll at Georgia Institute of Technology’s Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines (IRIM). More than 75 researchers from five Georgia Tech colleges and the Georgia Tech Research Institute collaborate on projects and partner with industry and government to pursue transformative robotics research.

An example of the practical application of such R&D is Tarzan, one of several machines that will be field-tested this summer as agricultural crop monitors. The robots will hang over the crops in a four-acre soybean test field established by the University of Georgia, suspended by parallel guy-wires. Fitted with cameras, the troop of Tarzans will swing like gibbons along the cables, taking picture after picture of each plant in each row."We designed it like a sloth, but we named it Tarzan," say the researchers of the robot engineered to hang above crop fields to inspect plants as they grow. "We designed it like a sloth, but we named it Tarzan," say the researchers of the robot engineered to hang above crop fields to inspect plants as they grow.

Researchers will be able to get more frequent measurements and to avoid some laborious field work. In the future, they may be able to stay at their laptops miles away, in the air conditioning, scanning a steady stream of images and data sent back from the robots.

Surgical assists represent another focus for robotics development, dedicated toward developing patient-specific, 3D-printed robots that allow physicians to do their jobs better. Two robots are currently being engineered for brain surgery service: these machines can be lowered into the brain, then sweep side to side or rotate to allow a full 360 degrees of rotation to enable a physician to operate out of the line of sight. The advancement of medical robotic devices to better diagnose breast cancer is also covered in this video.

Researchers are also partnering with Emory University and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to pioneer efforts in pediatric robotics. This field can be very challenging because what works for adult patients must be scaled down significantly to be applicable for kids and teenagers.

And in the near-term, everyone worldwide will have access to, and be able to run experiments in, the Robotarium. In this video, Magnus Egerstedt, director of the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, outlines the institute’s strengths, the global future of robotics, and prospects for the Robotarium.



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Discussion – 4 comments

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Re: Video: Tarzan the Crop Monitor and Other Robotic Roles
#1
2017-Apr-12 6:17 PM

How is this form of locomotion an advantage over, say, using a motorised truck moving along a wire, and how is this an advantage when it comes to crop inspection? Why not simply scoot a short distance along the wire, stop, collect its data, and move on?

Re: Video: Tarzan the Crop Monitor and Other Robotic Roles
#2
In reply to #1
2017-May-05 9:49 AM

I had the same question, though I wonder if this design would more easily allow for the robot to move to a different wire. Granted, assuming a perpendicular wire I could imagine a roller or crawler that could grab both wires at the same time and then release the previous wire. But, if we're just talking parallel wires this design could conceivably be adapted to swing from one to the next. In any case, it does seem odd to me this issue was not brought up in the article.

Re: Video: Tarzan the Crop Monitor and Other Robotic Roles
#3
2017-May-05 1:32 PM

An interesting optic and student project but I believe it is impractical for the stated objective of monitoring a farm. The infrastructure, wiring, poles, etc would interfere with the normal operations of a farm. If this were used to monitor a forest or woodland that was not worked with machinery and the natural environment could be used to provide the supports for the cabling then I think might be a good system. Also, the units could be sent to specific locations and allowed to "hang around" for extended monitoring of an area.

For monitoring a commercial farm I would think aerial drones housed in "bee hives" would be more practical and efficient. They would be more mobile for monitoring and would not interfere with farming operations and equipment.

Re: Video: Tarzan the Crop Monitor and Other Robotic Roles
#4
2017-May-05 5:02 PM

Agreed. An explanation of the Tarzan rationale would have helped.

Hexapod walking is one of the oldest forms, and requires no fixed infrastructure. Feet and walking patterns could be adapted to terrain and plant placement, while a generic core could be adaptively fitted with legs and feet for optimal height and footing, e.g. 4m high above corn, 1.5m above tomatoes; pencil feet for dry soil, softball feet for flooded muck.

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