New Zealand-based agritech company Robotics Plus has launched Prospr, an autonomous, multi-use, hybrid vehicle designed to carry out a variety of orchard and vineyard crop tasks more efficiently and sustainably while reducing reliance on labor. Prospr is now commercially available from Robotics Plus.
Prospr accommodates multiple swappable tools being developed, including newly released tower sprayers for grapes, apples, or tree crops. The right tool for the job is attached to the vehicle depending on the day’s work, and multiple Prosprs can collaborate in a fleet to get the job done. The autonomous vehicle uses a combination of perception systems to sense the environment, enabling data-driven insights.
Robotics Plus showcased Prospr for the first time at FIRA 2023, a California-based event dedicated to autonomous agriculture and agricultural robotics solutions.
Prospr has an all-electric drive system for torque and control. Its onboard power generation, with a Tier 4 diesel generator, allows the vehicle to operate for extended periods without charging or refuelling. Regenerative braking and high-capacity batteries extend range whilst its intelligent all-wheel-drive system with independent wheel motors gives superior manoeuvrability, grip and control.
Prospr has a small footprint and unique steering configuration, incorporating electric steering and independent motors. The vehicle turns on its rear axle with a minimum headland requirement of 7.1m/23ft for row-to-row turning. Minimum row spacing is 1.85m/6.07ft, giving growers options to deploy automation in a greater variety of applications in various crop types. This means ground is covered faster, maximizing productivity and spray time compared to machines that turn on every second row or greater.
Q Series Sprayers, developed by Robotics Plus in conjunction with Croplands, allow growers to deploy a range of spray configurations, adapting to various crop types, growing formats, heights, and the day’s job. The Q4 / Q6 sprayers have two or three fans on either side and are best suited to grape, apple, or tree crops. The Q8 sprayer comprises eight fans, four on each side, and is best suited to apple crops. Spray rates and air speed are dynamic and controlled per fan to maximise spray efficacy through electric drive and control systems. The sprayers are built upon Croplands Quantum™ fans that produce a fine mist and turbulent air for better coverage from the superior droplet formation and spray deposition.
To implement Prospr, a mesh network is installed to give a more consistent connection and interaction with the machine, improving operational efficiencies and user safety. Operators can manage and streamline the day’s work with a new organizational tool with an easy-to-use interface. Coordination is enabled between team members with multi-language support across various desktop and mobile devices. Jobs can be logged in advance and viewed in real time. Completed or in-progress jobs are mapped and recorded digitally. Multiple machines can be managed simultaneously by one or two operators from a single remote control via a fixed or mobile console.