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Lassonde researchers perfect hybrid reconfigurable robotic harvester

Automated crop harvesting has rightfully captured many imaginations due to its tremendous potential in food production and green farming on a global scale.  

Professor Dan Zhang at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, has excelled in this area of research. Today, with student Zhongxing Yang, the two researchers offer a hugely inventive green advancement in robotic harvesting.  

Their latest research is based on a hybrid harvester, a robotic structure with a hybrid harvester that uses solar and wind energy. The machine is designed in such a way that it can lie flat under stormy conditions, then return to a working configuration after the storm.  

“This robot could harvest solar/wind clean energy and is storm-safe through lie-flat posture, and it can be used as a radar antenna as well,” Zhang elaborates. “This improves the efficiency of energy collection and operational safety of the green industry.”  

This research was funded by the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The results were presented at a conference on materials science and engineering, then published in 2018 as part of the IOP Conference Series, under the title “Hybrid Harvester 3-RPS Robotic Parallel Manipulator.”  

Robots in agriculture have the potential to save farmers time and money. A few noteworthy advantages of robots in agriculture are:  

  • Speed, precision and efficiency: Since they don’t tire or become ill, robots can offer full field capacity. Compared to human harvesters, they make fewer errors and work more rapidly.
  • New jobs: Harvesting robots may replace human harvesters/operators, but they can conversely create jobs for human workers who fix agricultural robots.
  • Chemical safety and reduction: Robots can protect human workers from the harmful effects of handling chemicals by hand and, through a system of high spraying, they can reduce up to 80 per cent of a farm’s use of pesticides.
  • Less impact on environment: In cases such as fruit picking, robots can reduce the environmental impact. (Source: Online Sciences.)

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