Robotic Grass Cutter for Orchards (RoCutO)
The production of fruits and berries has a long tradition in Western Norway and remains until today an important economic sector. However, many producers struggle to stay competitive in face of high labour costs. RoCutO has the goal to develop an autonomous robot grass cutter for orchards to relieve producers from manual groundcover management. The excessive growing of weeds under fruit trees and berry bushes is undesirable since under-crop vegetation competes for water and nutrients which reduces the crop yield and plant growth. Opposed to other agricultural mowing, grass cutting in orchards is a more involved task. The confirmed space in orchards and their location in often steep termin impedes the use of factors and conventional heavy machinery.
Mowing robots for household use, on the other hand, do not have sufficient cutting, mobility, and navigation capacities, and the necessary robustness for agricultural use. RoCutO will fill this gap by integrating enough cutting capacity into a small yet robust 4x4 mobile robotic platf01m, equipped with cameras and sensor systems for intelligent navigation in a rugged and dynamic environment.
Such a robot system has immediate effect in fruit and berry production in Western Norway, especially in the regions of Sogn and Hardanger. RoCutO has great potential to benefit regional agriculture, reduce herbicide use and contribute toa green economy. The research group at HYL has an existing cooperation with the big data group at Vestlandsforsking, which can support the development of algorithms to analyse the potentially large amounts of sensor data collected by the robot. Vestlandsforsking have close relations to agricultural producers in Lærdal, which is beneficial to establish contact to the targeted user group in the region.
Project Leader is Western Norway University of Applied Science (HVL), with Martin F. Stølen
Project Contact is Erik Kyrkjebø