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Autonomous sprayer ‘crawls’ underneath strawberry gutters

Strawberry cultivation company HG Eerenburg in Nispen (Netherlands) has developed an autonomous vehicle for crop protection in tunnels.

Strawberry growing company HG Eerenburg in Nispen (Netherlands) has developed an autonomous robot for crop protection under the gutters in a foil greenhouse. It is an autonomous vehicle that drives underneath the gutters that hang 1.25 meters above the ground. The vehicle can steer with four wheels and has four nozzles for air support. The robot is approximately one meter high and is electrically powered by a combustion engine.

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During spraying, the location is determined with RTK GPS. Maneuvering to the adjacent work path is done with a 3D camera and a simulation program. – Photo: Joost Stallen
During spraying, the location is determined with RTK GPS. Maneuvering to the adjacent work path is done with a 3D camera and a simulation program. – Photo: Joost Stallen

GPS sphere on a pole

During spraying the location is determined with RTK GPS. The machine has two GPS spheres (one on the front and one on the back). Good reception requires these receivers to reach above the crop, and therefore also above the aluminum gutters.

That is why the GPS receivers are placed on a hydraulically extendable pole. The vehicle maneuvers at a fast pace to the adjacent path while not using GPS reception. Instead, it uses a simulation program in combination with a 3D camera.

5.4 kilometers per hour

The spraying is done at a speed of 5.4 kilometers per hour. Spraying a 4-hectare greenhouse takes about five hours. The idea is to also use the autonomous vehicle for the dosed distribution of natural enemies on the crop.

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