China is already the world's largest market for industrial robots. As labour costs continue to rise, the demand for robots in the country will be stronger. The country's agricultural sector is seen by some as a place where technologies can take root. A research institute and a startup, Fujian Academy of Agricultural Sciences and Fujian Newland Era Hi-Tech Co Ltd, are determined to develop an agricultural robot.
The sensor-rich agricultural robot can move between two rows of chlorophyll in a greenhouse, collect data on the plants and return them to the control room. The robot, suitable for 5G, is equipped with two 5 megapixel cameras as "eyes". With sensors at the top of its head and mouth, the robot can also detect wind speeds, carbon dioxide, humidity, temperature and other data about the natural environment of the greenhouse.
"Farm robots also have to adapt to a wide variety of highly differentiated crops, livestock and aquatic products. To solve the challenges, the research institute and Newland have jointly developed a more sophisticated artificial intelligence system. Computer algorithms as well as the hardware for positioning, map construction, route design and avoiding obstacles have all been optimized to suit the agricultural environment, taking into consideration fertilization, watering the plants, bumpy roads and other natural factors.
"Currently, the robot can inspect farms automatically and collect data samples used to power various applications. It can determine plants' health condition and decide if pest control measures are warranted.