Science - June 24, 2004

Cropscout wins field robot event

Media attention was high for the Field Robot Event last Friday. Not only newspaper reporters were there, but also radio reporters and cameras for TV Gelderland; and all for thirteen little robots that propelled themselves independently through a field of knee-high maize for a few minutes.

The final winner of the field robot competition was the ‘Cropscout’, built by a team of staff from Agrotechnology and Food Innovations. The robot with caterpillar wheels was the quickest round the course of straight, curved and muddy rows of maize, and judged best by the jury. It cost two thousand euros to build, and was one of the most expensive entrants in the competition.

Sietse, a robot made by people from Plant Research International and Wageningen Software Labs (WISL), came second despite having set various distance records already. Team member Arjan Lamaker: “We took part because we thought we had a better entry than what we saw last year in the competition. But unfortunately things went wrong with Sietse’s left turn.” Lamaker sees robots as the future for agriculture. “They can be used twenty-four hours a day to look after crops.”

This year’s Field Robot Event was the second time it was held. Teams from various European countries took part, including third prize winners, a team from Osnabruck in Germany. It is possible that next year’s event will be held in a different country.

Yvonne de Hilster

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