ArrBot Is A Fast Way To Get Out Standing In A New Field Of Robotics

[Junglist] correctly points out that agricultural robotics is fast on its way to being the next big thing (TM) and presents his easy to build ArrBot platform so others can get hacking fast. 

The frame is built out of the same brackets and aluminum tubing used to add handrails to stairwells on buildings. Not only is this a fast way to do it, the set-up can be guaranteed to be sturdy since hand rails are often literally standing between life and death. The high ground clearance allows for all sorts of sensors and devices to be mounted while still being able to clear the plants below. 

For motion hub motors driven by an ODrive were re-purposed for the task. He explored turning the wheels as well, but it seems like  differential steer and casters works well for this set-up. ROS on an Nividia Jetson runs the show and deals with the various sensors such as a stereoscopic camera and IMU.

We’re excited to see what hacks people come up with as research in this area grows. (Tee-hee!) For example, [Junglist] wants to see the effect of simply running a UV light over a field rather than spraying with pesticides or fungicides would have.

19 thoughts on “ArrBot Is A Fast Way To Get Out Standing In A New Field Of Robotics

  1. I hate to be critical, but that thing is going to get stuck in ruts, and fall over quite a bit… Maybe if you very carefully address the surface path it traveled. The center of gravity is too high. Might be better used indoors, like a greenhouse. I don’t see it doing well, out in a typical garden, or on a farm. Was really hoping to see something rugged, and more capable to hand uneven terrain.

  2. I’d be worried about things like gopher/woodchuck/rabbit holes hidden in the grass with those small diameter wheels… I guess if the motors are torquey enough and it doesn’t lose its balance it could crawl its way out but I would still lean towards having some kind of suspension and/or wheels big enough not to fall into such holes.

    Has this been a problem?

  3. “[Junglist] correctly points out that agricultural robotics is fast on its way to being the next big thing (TM) ”

    Except people are cheap and versatile, able to climb walls like no one’s business.

    1. After the middle ages “automation” (primitive machines) started to become more used in Europe which over the next couple of centuries lead to the Industrial Revolution, this never happened in China, why? The black death in Europe reduced the number of workers making machines more cost effective then men, in China you could always hire more than enough men to do the job way cheaper than buying a machine so as long as we have people willing to work at jobs cheaper than robots we will never replace humans, they’ll just be treated like robots. (“the modern term robot derives from the Czech word robota (“forced labour” or “serf”), used in Karel Čapek’s play R.U.R.”)

    2. Robots are largely an invest-once cost. Sure there is maintenance, but that’s just a fraction. Compared to a person who has ongoing costs. After some time, they pay for themselves. Robots also don’t strike, complain about working conditions, call in late. They can break, but are quickly replaceable. They aren’t generally the center of political attention and moving to robots generally doesn’t cause boycotts. I could keep going, but avoiding automation has historically proven to be an unwise decision.

      1. “I could keep going, but avoiding automation has historically proven to be an unwise decision.”

        There’s a difference between saying “he/she’s a Luddite” and acknowledging automation fundamentally is an economic decision, pros or cons. If automation doesn’t take root in a particular niche that’s an economic reality, not an active “we don’t like technology”. Automation has to earn it’s way just like every other development, and not ride our emotional guilt to success.

      2. Automation is great, to some extent, but people need to work, so they have money, to buy products and services. Not everyone will be working to build robot, service and repair. Robots, if economically viable, wouldn’t need constant service or repair. Of course, there aren’t many companies these days, producing products that last a buyer’s lifetime, or still useful, to the next generation. We feel fortunate, if much of what we buy, outlasts the warranty period…

  4. It would not work on my property as is. However if you canned the wheels and 3D printer tracks and changed the geometry so it was longer and wider for the height it may have a chance. Truthfully it looks like a cornstalk could stop it. What does this do that a tractor driven implement can not do? There is a reasons farmers use tractors. They are big and heavy, often times having extra weights on them and the wheels are loaded with calcium. The wheels are big and have large treads in them so they will not get mired in the fields. For the smaller farmer there are lots of small farm and garden tractors available. This is not a new technology. People have been eating for a long time before now.

  5. Its a start. Cant get traction on hard pack dirt. Not feeling its reliability in a muddy fresh turned field nevermind getting up and down potholed field roads. No self righting mechanism for something that seems topheavy. 45 minutes should cover about A quarter of a short row at that speed. Maybe a third if its dry and smooth ground. ha. All assuming is a short crop. What exactly does it do again?

  6. Not a terrible design. This is just a generic platform, you’re going to have to customize it for your own needs. Pair something like this with raised beds and have it run along the timbers that make up the sides of the beds and you might really have something. You might have just inspired me to fabricobble something together for my strawberries in the spring.

    1. If you need something like this with raised beds you are doing something really wrong. That being said, if you did want to use something like this on raised beds I would use a rack and pinion drive. I think the problem is this is attempting to solve either a problem that does not exist or a problem that has already been addressed with current technology. BTW, a tractor is a movable platform that provides power to various implements via ground contact, the PTO, the belt pulley (on older tractors) and hydraulics. What is interesting is that some small farms still use implements that get their power via ground contact, turning the wheels runs the device, and some of these were originally pulled by horses.

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