New Zealand-based agritech entity, Robotics Plus, has unveiled an innovative autonomous vehicle named Prospr, designed to undertake multiple tasks within orchards and vineyards, aiming to augment efficiency and sustainability in crop production. This release is also a strategic move to diminish labor dependency in the agriculture sector, offering a versatile solution that can adapt to various agricultural activities.
Prospr is a multi-use, hybrid vehicle which can accommodate several interchangeable tools, tailored to different agricultural needs, such as newly launched tower sprayers ideal for grapes, apples, or other tree crops. Multiple Prospr vehicles can operate in unison, equipped with perception systems to assess the environment and furnish data-driven insights. The vehicle's functionality is to be premiered at FIRA 2023, an event in California focusing on autonomous agricultural solutions.
Steve Saunders, Co-founder and Chief Executive at Robotics Plus, expressed the necessity of innovations like Prospr in agriculture to meet the growing food demand sustainably, and to reduce both emissions and operational costs in the industry. He emphasized Prospr's adaptability, modular architecture, and its all-day operational capability as its prime features, which reduce emissions and reliance on machine operators, allowing flexibility in utilization for varied crops and applications throughout the year.
Prospr's co-creator, Dr. Alistair Scarfe, highlighted the technological advancements integrated into Prospr, including a revamped platform for tool attachment, enhanced machine connectivity, control, safety features, and a user-friendly interface. He also mentioned that the vehicle has its wireless network, enabling online operations and software updates for introducing new features.
The hybrid system of Prospr incorporates an all-electric drive system and an onboard power generator with a Tier 4 diesel generator, allowing prolonged operations without necessitating charging or refuelling. It promises over 70% reduction in fuel consumption compared to its traditional diesel counterparts and features regenerative braking and high-capacity batteries, extending its range.
Prospr’s modular design and unique steering configuration make it a versatile choice for growers, allowing deployment in varied applications and crop types. Its compact design and unique tire and wheel configuration minimize ground compaction, maximizing productivity. Robotics Plus has collaborated with industry leaders like Croplands and Yamaha Motor Co to refine and scale the vehicle, enhancing its adaptability and robustness in diverse agricultural settings.
The introduction of Q Series Sprayers, co-developed with Croplands, offers adaptability to different crop types and growing formats. These sprayers use advanced technology to control spray rates and air speed dynamically, ensuring maximum spray efficacy.
The safety and management aspects of implementing Prospr are addressed through the installation of a mesh network, enhancing connection stability and interaction with the machine, thereby optimizing operational efficiencies and user safety. It enables better coordination among team members through a new organizational tool and multi-language support across various devices. Jobs can be planned and monitored in real-time, and multiple machines can be managed simultaneously by a single operator.
The launch of Prospr represents a significant advancement in agritech, providing a sustainable and efficient solution for crop production in orchards and vineyards. Its versatile and adaptable design ensures it meets the diverse needs of the agriculture sector, marking a step forward in autonomous agricultural solutions.