April 17, 2024

Electric Robot Harvester Can Help Boost Cotton Yields By 20%

A new field robot named Afara and developed by a Turkish cotton farmer is fully electric, fully autonomous, and could help cotton yields jump between 5 and 20 percent.

Afara’s inventor said that between 5 to 20 percent of cotton is left on the plants after the conventional self-propelled harvesters have left the field.

Due to limitations of existing farm equipment, the plant density of the farms, and other factors, the only way left to harvest that leftover cotton is by hand, which is a labour intensive, and expensive process.

“Because of the costs involved and general shortage of farm labor, that cotton often ends up left in the field,” Electrek reported.

The Afara is equipped with 4 RGB-cameras, 2 LiDAR sensors, and a host of ultrasonic sensors used to detect leftover cotton, navigate obstacles, and otherwise do what the bigger harvesters do.

While big harvesters can pluck from up to 12 rows of plants at a time, the Afara handles two rows, collecting up to 200 kg of cotton in its onboard container.

Once full, the robot navigates to a pre-determined collection point, where human operators can unload it.

The inventor claims its cotton detection rate is 99.8 percent, with picking efficiency currently at 71 percent of the leftover 20 percent, with a target picking efficiency rate at more than 90 percent.

The fully electric cotton pick machine runs on a li-ion battery that allows for up to 6 hours of autonomy.

AC charging takes 6 to 7 hours, while a projected DC fast charging model with 84 kW capability is expected to take less than 1.5 hours to recharge.

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