Fine-tuning the tulip selection robot remains ongoing

08-02 | |
The disease-seeking robot in action. Next spring there will be 73 machines in action. - Photo: H2L robotics
The disease-seeking robot in action. Next spring there will be 73 machines in action. - Photo: H2L robotics

The disease-seeking robot has been operating on Dutch bulb fields for three seasons already. With New Zealand included, the counter stands at 5 seasons of experience. How does the selector perform in tulips and will it recognize more in the future, especially if glyphosate disappears? These are important questions, but the bottom line remains: all efforts focus on the detection and treatment of viruses.

Building company Smit Construction in The Netherlands, builder of the disease-seeking robot, is busy. At the moment there are 43 robots in practice and they come back for service and maintenance. In the meantime they produce another 30 new machines. Next spring there will be 73 robots in action. The machine becomes profitable starting from 30 hectares. The Flower Platform made a visit to the company.

Virus detection improved

Last year, there were indeed some issues that required attention. For instance, the virus detection in some cultivars was insufficient, says Smit. The users of the machine acknowledge this. The recognition of virus images fell short. Additionally, the robot got stuck in the clay. More power is needed.

After the season, efforts were made to improve virus recognition. The machines have been tested, and the expectation is that it will perform better. The treatment of the diseased tulip also requires attention. Sometimes, a healthy plant gets treated when a healthy one and a virus-infected plant are close together. The additional camera on the treatment button is now being trained to recognize the virus as well.

Diesel engine

Depending on the weather, the machine can cover 1.5 hectares per day. The robot can also work at night. Compared to manual disease searching, the use of the robot is much more efficient. The machine is still under development in terms of virus detection. More and more growers are using the robot, partly due to expensive and scarce labor. Most growers opt for the convenience of a diesel-powered machine. The manufacturer is also considering batteries but does not expect them to be available soon due to their vulnerability. The hydrogen engine has also been studied, but it will take some time before it becomes viable.

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Ed Asscheman Online editor Future Farming
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