[Artificial Intelligence] Sparks between Technology & Agriculture

by: Yan-Zhu Wang

There is a group of people from Taiwan who try to combine technology and agriculture to develop automated equipment integrated with artificial intelligence. By doing so, the problem of labor shortage in rural areas can be solved, while the use of the water and fertilizer for fruits and vegetables can be monitored with precision. The new technology can even help identify pests. Farming can also be “smart!”

Irrigation with Cloud Computing-Smart Sprinklers

“FarmBot” is a large farming robot developed in the United States. Its hardware and software data are available on the Internet for download.

To lower the technology threshold for using FarmBot, FBTUG (FarmBot Taiwan User Group) members downsized FarmBot to Mini-FarmBot and Tiny-FarmBot to maximize its return and value added.

Mini-FarmBot is lightweight and easy to assemble, yet it retains the original XYZ triaxial module, replaceable UTM sprinkler nozzle, and monitoring lens. The setup allows the sprinkler to move to any point in a three-dimensional space to conduct irrigation, sowing, soil quality monitoring, and image recognition. The system can be remote-controlled through the cloud, where users can receive images of crops and the machine in operation.

Open Source- Robotic Farming!

In automated farming, IoT technology is used in monitoring every detail including irrigation, fertilization, weeding, and even pesticide spraying.

The Picking Robot is the latest project of FBTUG. By using image recognition through big data, the robot is able to tell fruits that are ripe and harvest them with claws of the matching size. The robot integrated with IoT systems can upload images of fruits to the cloud, so that farmers can record the growth and different stages of the farming in a more efficient way.

Bladed fruit picking claw with ROS self-propelling car (Source: Yan-Zhu Wang)

Fish and Vegetables Symbiosis System

To ensure food safety for the family, a software engineer, Kuan-Yu Lee, started developing a symbiosis system for fish and vegetables without any background in agriculture. Lee started out at the balcony in his own apartment and gradually expanded to a real farm land.

His goal is to create a fully automated symbiosis farm. To do this, Lee self-learns information and skills in the field and takes classes offered by STMC (Southern Taiwan Maker Center). During the process, Lee is able to create handy hardware for his farm and makes use of 3D-printing and laser-cutting, which paves the way for Lee to fulfill his dream.

Prototype of Lee’s fish and vegetables symbiosis system (Source: Kuan-Yu Lee)

AI, big data, image recognition, and farming robots all bring a new trend of farming technology into traditional agriculture. It is hoped that more communities will join the family in the future to bring more innovation into Agriculture 4.0.