Whether driven by a changing farm labor picture or the rapid development of automation systems, robots are gaining ground on the development side. Already in the U.S. we know that Kinze has carved a niche in the area of automation, but other big players are experimenting with robotics, as well.

During Farm Industry News’ trip to Agritechnica, two automated developments caught our eye, and while both are prototypes, the developers are working to make them a reality.

The Agribot from Poland got our attention first because of its unique look, and then because its developer is so enthusiastic. The goal? Have a machine that’s ready to market in two years. The Agribot is designed for orchard and vineyard use, where the tracked machine could move easily down narrow rows and up and down steep inclines.

The Agribot is equipped with GPS and sophisticated sensors to detect obstacles. It features PTOs on the front and rear, along with two 3-pt. hitches so it can perform two operations in one pass. Each set of tracks can rotate a full 360 degrees.

Work is underway on an intelligent sprayer attachment, a precision fertilizer spreader and a soil-testing device that can be mounted on the machine. The company is also looking at mowers, pruners and a gas blower to push air on flowers when frost is imminent.

Other ideas include an automated picker-like device for collecting fruit, and nonchemical weed control, which would involve identifying weeds and using such

techniques as “thermal eradication” — in essence, flaming them off. To learn more, visit agrirobo.eu.

Automated tool carrier

A familiar name introduces an unfamiliar concept. Kongskilde showed off a prototype, called the Vibro Crop Robotti, that can be outfitted with a range of tools. This tool-carrier approach makes sense especially on smaller farms, but such robots could “gang up” on a field to clear weeds or do precision seeding.

The prototype was at Agritechnica to start a conversation with customers about various features. One key issue is the power source. The machine at the show was electric and could run for about four hours on a charge. More customer tests are

in the works, and the company is experimenting with other power sources, including a small diesel engine.

The machine can be outfitted with sensing technology and more for improved application. It uses RTK GPS to stay on track. Learn more at kongskilde.com.

Read more news from the show.

Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to Farm Industry News Now e-newsletter to get the latest news and more straight to your inbox twice weekly.