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Continental develops fully autonomous farm robot

Continental showed the Contadino implement carrier prototype at Agritechnica. The fully autonomous robot can be used for seeding, weeding, spraying, fertilising and monitoring.

The Contadino implement carrier is currently in prototype phase. Continental is looking for partners to realise first field applications in 2020.

Modular implement carrier

The robot that Continental showed at Agritechnica is a modular agricultural implement carrier which can be used for different light duty tasks such as seeding, weeding, spraying, fertilising and monitoring. For these different purposes the robot can be equipped with different implements.

Continental says the modular design allows for a maximum of flexibility regarding tool size and track width. It should also enable quick and easy maintenance.

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The robot is equipped with lidar scanner, radar, RTK GPS, camera and ultrasound. These sensors ensure accurate object detection and classification, tracking and a GNSS accuracy of 3 centimeters. - Photo: Continental
The robot is equipped with lidar scanner, radar, RTK GPS, camera and ultrasound. These sensors ensure accurate object detection and classification, tracking and a GNSS accuracy of 3 centimeters. - Photo: Continental

Swarm

The robots can work in fleet operation, which means several robots collaborate in one field. The fleet size can be flexibly configured. The transport to the field takes place with a trailer which also functions as charging and refill station for seeds, fertilisers, etc.

Continental says this swarm concept “guarantees an efficient and smooth workflow without any downtimes”. Efficient electric motors and automatic recharging are to ensure a round-the-clock-operation.

“Contadino enables smart farming with precise application of pesticides and fertilisers or a selective sowing process,” says the manufacturer.

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Sensors

The robot is equipped with lidar scanner, radar, RTK GPS, camera and ultrasound. These sensors ensure accurate object detection and classification, tracking and a GNSS accuracy of 3 centimeters. The tools are connected to the robot via open interfaces.

This connection provides the implement with electric power and acts as a data line enabling access to sensor data and cloud communication.

No human surveillance required

The operation process does not require human surveillance, says Continental. “The farmer has more flexibility in field processing and reacting to changing conditions like new regulations or weather extremes.

A cloud connection of the fleet allows mobile monitoring and a constant overview of the process, independent of location. Data access and evaluation gives way to improvements in productivity. In a nut shell, farmers can focus again on agronomics.”

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