Text by: Michael Hanemaayer
Last fall, the Research & Innovation division at Niagara College welcomed a new member to its team in the form of the land rover RoamIO Jumbo, which has opened the door to new opportunities for future industry partners in precision agriculture.
Built by Korechi Innovations, the RoamIO Jumbo is a remote-controlled land robot that is highly customizable and workable for the students and research leads who are working with, modifying, and operating the machine.
The 400-lb rugged machine will be able to conquer the previous difficulties that came with operating a remote-controlled vehicle on the ground, such as uneven terrain or unexpected obstacles, i.e. rocks and trees, while allowing for ease of use in places such as vineyards.
Some of the high-tech features being tested, added or modified on the robot include a camera to provide visuals of the crops and fields, as well as a sensor that is able to detect the hot and cold spots in a field, allowing for an elevation in the quality of the yield from crops. The robot will also have aerial support via unmanned drones.
With the ability to monitor weather (temperature and humidity) in various locations throughout a field, in real time, losses due to temperature changes and disease can be greatly reduced thanks to RoamIO. And with an onboard generator, it’s able to patrol vineyards 24 hours a day.
The project was made possible thanks to a grant of $94,000 from NSERC (the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada).
RoamIO will be working with grape growers in Niagara collecting crop imagery in vineyards for grape health analysis, ripeness estimation and ultimately yield prediction.
For more information about Niagara College’s smart farming technology click here.