C-DAC, IIT-Kharagpur developing robot for pesticide spraying

M. Ramesh | | Updated on: Sep 09, 2020
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The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Kolkata, is coordinating a multi-body project, funded by the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, to develop a robot essentially for spraying pesticides in agricultural fields.

The robot, when fully developed, will be able to move around in a farm, take photographs of plants, diagnose any disease, select an appropriate pesticide from its tank and spray it on that particular plant, said Prof Dilip Kumar Pratihar of IIT-Kharagpur, which is one of the institutions working on the project.

The idea is to develop a ‘tracked mobile manipulator’ which will enable the robot to negotiate the rough terrain in the field. The machine will feature a camera that will take pictures and process the photographs to detect any disease in a plant, Pratihar told BusinessLine today.

When the robot detects a disease in a plant it will reach it, select an appropriate pesticide or medicine from its tank and spray it on that plant, said Pratihar, the project’s Principal Investigator.

It is a two-year project, which is now half way, he said. The pandemic has delayed things a bit, but Pratihar is confident that the project will be completed within the allotted time. All but the spraying system of the machine has been developed. Assembly and testing will take place as soon as the lockdown conditions improve, he said.

Some manufacturers have shown interest in taking up the product for production, he said but did not wish to name them.

Pratihar, author of a book titled Soft Computing , which deals with genetic algorithms, fuzzy logic and neural networks, is the founder of the Centre for Excellence in Robotics at IIT-Kharagpur. The centre is working on several other robotics-related projects, too, including on drones, six-legged robots and humanoid robots.

The professor is involved in developing controls for a life-sized humanoid robot, which can walk on plain ground and on slopes and climb up and down stairs, and has applications in defence. The project, coordinated by the Shastri Indo Canada Institute, is a very complex project as the robot would have “35 degrees of freedom”, or 35 independently functioning variables.

“Lot of mathematics is involved,” Pratihar said.

Published on September 09, 2020

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