The MARS experiment aims at the development of small and stream-lined mobile agricultural robot units to fuel a paradigm shift in farming practices. The concept addresses looming challenges of today’s large and constantly growing tractor-implement combinations with mainly three aspects. First: to optimize plant specific precision farming, leading to reduced input of seeds, fertilizer and pesticides and to increased yields. Second: to reduce the massive soil compaction as well as energy consumption of heavy machinery. Third: to meet the increasing demand for flexible to use, highly automated and simple to operate systems, anticipating challenges arising from climate change as well as shortage of skilled labour.
The robots will cooperate as a group, similar to swarm principles. MARS will focus on the seeding process for corn performed by two robots as an example. The key strategy of this approach is on the one hand the radical reduction of weight and size compared to conventional farming equipment, which also allows for a fundamental simplification of safety tasks. On the other hand it is the essential simplification compared to known agricultural robot prototypes, especially by minimized use of on-board sensors. This will be realized by transferring control algorithms, process optimizing and supervising intelligence to cloud services and utilizing precise GPS-Real Time Kinematic technology. All these measures are intended to lead to a significant cost reduction of the overall system paving the way towards robots as a true alternative in the agricultural domain.
You want to see MARS in action? The Bavarian television produced a short video (in German only).
For further information please refer to: http://www.fendt.com/int/11649.asp