Autonomous crawler vehicle for the use in vineyards and orchards

In the course of Intervitis, Interfructa, Hortitechnica, the Robot Makers GmbH and NIKO Maschinenbau presented a vineyard crawler for the first time, which is able to complete several tasks independently. In contrast to other systems on the market, the machine doesn’t use the high-precision RTK-GPS.

Most of the data used for navigation is provided by the “eyes” of the vehicle, so-called ambient environmental sensors. In addition to independently running the rows in wine and fruit cultivation, the vehicle is also able to turn independently at the row exit and enter the next row. This allows complete plantations to be processed autonomously.

The fully hydraulic crawler with a total weight of 950kg, gets its intelligence by modules of the Robot Makers development platform. Besides the Robot Makers Software Platform, that provides well-proven software-packages with basic functionalities like collision avoidance and the navigation based on local structures, the Generic Control Box comes into action. The Generic Control Box enables an easy and cost-effective integration on the vehicle of our partner.

By eliminating the necessity of the highly accurate RTK-GPS signal, the system achieves greater robustness against signal fluctuations caused by shading (e.g. because of trees or precipices) and weather phenomena. In addition, the position offset arising by the slippage of the crawler while the transposition maneuver can be counterbalanced. This offset forces today’s systems, which are based on precisely predefined tracks, to come to a standstill.

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