With the initiation of the Board-of-Industry around the Saxion research group Mechatronics under the new leadership of Dirk Bekke several projects have been started. With Boessenkool B.V. and the start-up Drone4Agro the project TOPfarm “ TOwards autonomous Precision farming using aerial robots”, has been started. The project is even mentioned in the TEDxSaxionUniversity event by Dr A.Mersha.
Robotic projects at Saxion
The project anticipated to develop a large payload agriculture UAV and docking station technology. Large payload agricultural robots have the potential of enabling intercropping and reducing soil compaction, which greatly contribute to efficient productivity and environmental friendliness. Spraying can be done locally on a need-to basis not on a farmer-has time basis. Considering the growing world population, the use of these new technologies provide optimal use of resources and provide a better food production.
The aerial robot will be built by Drone4Agro, but several new technologies need to be developed by the Saxion research group: The first and most important feature is autonomy. The UAV needs to be fully autonomous to function properly like a robot. Ordinary farmers therefore don’t need to be an expert pilot to fly it and after landing it needs to replenish its resources (battery and liquid sprays) automatically. A robust mobile docking station technology should enable all this. The Saxion University of Applied Sciences, as an expert knowledge center on applying technology, will use the systems engineering methodology to develop and assemble the technology into the complete functional system.