Mobile robot with UVC light that protects crops from disease
The widespread use of pesticides in agriculture has a mayor influence on our biodiversity. It can contaminate soil, water, turf, and other vegetation. In addition to killing insects or weeds, pesticides can be toxic to a host of other organisms. But also causes resistance of fungi, viruses, and bacteria around the world. The WHO, the US CDC and the European CDC label microbiological resistance as one of the biggest threats to our biodiversity.
Pesticides are conventionally applied using hydraulic atomizers, either on handheld sprayers or tractor booms. Both methods are highly inefficient and expensive as much more pesticide is needed to cover the vast pieces of agricultural ground. We were asked together with Loop Robots to come up with an efficient alternative for the use of pesticide.
This project focuses on a sustainable alternative to the use of pesticides in controlling fungi and diseases, using UVC light and robotics. UVC light is sustainable, non-toxic to insects and other animals and does not induce resistance. UVC light is already used in printing industry (curing ink), drinking water disinfection, healthcare disinfection of equipment, rooms and surfaces, among others.
In this project, we and Loop Robots joined forces to create an autonomous disinfection robot for specifically for arable potatoes. Hereby we mainly focus on the control of mainly Phytophthora. For this, the UVC technology (lamp modules) of Loop Robots is integrated into Avular’s autonomous Origin One ground platform for outdoor use. This platform can easily drive between rows in most fields. Furthermore, the platform is modular so it can be easily adapted to different use cases. The combination of Avular’s Origin One integrated with Loop’s Robotics UVC lighting model makes it possible to treat only the parts of the potato fields needed. Making it cost-effective, efficient, and protecting our biodiversity.
- Smaller need for human labor
- Increased cost savings
- Improved produce quality
- Speed as robots don’t get distracted or need breaks
- Protection of our biodiversity