Design of a UGV Powered by Solar Energy for Precision Agriculture
In this paper, a novel UGV (unmanned ground vehicle) for precision agriculture, named “Agri.q,” is presented. The Agri.q has a multiple degrees of freedom positioning mechanism and it is equipped with a robotic arm and vision sensors, which allow to challenge irregular terrains and to perform precision field operations with perception. In particular, the integration of a 7 DOFs (degrees of freedom) manipulator and a mobile frame results in a reconfigurable workspace, which opens to samples collection and inspection in non-structured environments. Moreover, Agri.q mounts an orientable landing platform for drones which is made of solar panels, enabling multi-robot strategies and solar power storage, with a view to sustainable energy. In fact, the device will assume a central role in a more complex automated system for agriculture, that includes the use of UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) and UGV for coordinated field monitoring and servicing. The platform is covered with photovoltaic panels useful to recharge a 12 V battery that gives power to the system. A positioning device permits to orient the platform so to keep it horizontal above the ground or to optimize the sunlight collection process. A seven DOFs manipulator is mounted on the rover and can be placed in different positions on the UGV depending on the task that it has to perform. The solution adopted to mount the robotic arm on the rover is discussed and indexes to evaluate the performances of the mounting system in terms of augmentation of the robotic workspace are presented. The mechatronic system architecture is also reported and finally the first prototype is shown in different meaningful configurations. Future studies will consider the integration of vision sensors on the prototype and will analyze Agri.q02 capabilities in a real vineyard scenario. Moreover, the software package for the autonomous guide and manipulation tasks will be developed.