Australia: Robots from Mechanisation Automation Robotics Remote Sensing (MARRS) could one day run automated farms in Australia, said Dr Adam Postula, a researcher at the University of Queensland. Dr Postula added that MARRS technologies can control unmanned aircraft or unmanned tractors. They can also use detection systems capable of observing environment using visual, infra-red or laser light wavelengths.
The emerging technologies can also help farmers by detecting and communicating in real-time variable environmental, field, and crop parameters such as moisture content, temperature and humidity.
The remote-controlled farm could become a reality, just as mines are becoming more automated, he said. “That’s definitely possible. Look what happens with farms now – how many people we’ve employed on farms before and how many we have now,” Dr Postula said.
“I’ve seen a mine in Sweden where there were no people underground, everything was controlled from above ground. The future of farming is largely about precision,” Dr Postula said.
“It’s not only pursued in space – where you put your plants in particular locations – but also you know almost everything about your soil, about moisture, stuff that really matters for growing,” he said. “In order to know that you have to have sensors that are close to the plant. That means the sensors must be cheap,” he said.
Dr Postula said any four-wheel vehicle can be made autonomous, and unmanned aircraft will be able to scan and estimate the size of crops and the maturity of fruit, or determine the location of cattle. “We expect that walking, moving, flying robots will be a commonplace on Australian farms in future,” Dr Postula continued.