Posted in | Agricultural Robotics

Virtual Reality Operated Robot to be Demonstrated at 2017 FutureFarm Expo

The project 'ROVR' (Remote Operated Vineyard Robot) group has developed a fully mobile concept demonstrator at their R&D lab in Pendleton, Oregon  to solve the chronic labor shortage problem faced by the US premium wine industry. The first public exhibition of this virtual reality operated robot will take place at the 2017 FutureFarm Expo from August 15th to 17th.

Credit: Duke Joseph Agency

Over the last eighteen months, Virginia-based Digital Harvest, an Agricultural Solutions Company who recently set up a research outpost at the Pendleton UAS Test Range, developed the unique technology.

Until now, the promise of industrial robots taking over, "dumb, dirty or dangerous" jobs for workers has yet to be accomplished outside of the factory floor. Although tens of thousands of man hours and huge amounts have been invested, robotics Researchers and Innovators (with few exemptions) have yet to accomplish the aim of developing cost-effective robots that are capable of repeating the productivity of skilled farm workers.

Since the labor force that vine fruit and tree growers depend on continues to decline, the costs and complexities associated with identifying new workers have left the industry in crisis. Several surveys of vegetable and fruit growers have confirmed that labor is the number one challenge when it comes to agricultural growth.

The ROVR robotic worker system, which will be exhibited at the FutureFarm Expo, is very unique and can bypass many of the persistent technical challenges of intelligence and machine learning by maintaining a human operator in the loop through a VIRTUAL REALITY interface.

We tried many types of tools to operate the robotic arms, such as joysticks and game controllers, but none were capable of allowing the system to operate at the similar level of accuracy or speed as traditional skilled workers. By using Virtual Reality as an operator interface, we not only improved manual dexterity but also opened up the possibility of human workers being able to teleport to work from anywhere.

Young Kim, CEO

The FutureFarm Expo is an annual technology summit held by Oregon FutureFarm Project, a novel farm-tech accelerator effort that has brought innovative Digital Agriculture Developers such as Yamaha Unmanned Systems and Digital Harvest to Eastern Oregon.

The Future Farm Expo, unlike other agricultural events held in the United States, brings together advanced Technology Developers with Ag Experts from Northwest and around the world. Distinguished Agri-tech Researchers, Crop Consultants, Leading Food Processors, Livestock Ranchers and High-value Crop Growers come together with Daily Farmers and key Policymakers to share their knowledge to develop the new methods required to feed a rapidly growing world.

The attendees of the 2017 FutureFarm Expo will get a comprehensive overview of Digital Agriculture 2.0. Currently, improving farming practices, streamlining production and reducing the influence on resources are the collective goals in agriculture. A key outcome of this event is to learn about advanced technologies and how to apply them.

Earlier undiscussed issues such as beyond line-of-sight crop imaging as well as managing cattle from the sky will also be presented. Updates on ongoing developments in precision irrigation, soil sciences, field robotics, farm automation and what-do-to-with-all-that-data will round out the professional presentations.

George Kellerman of Yamaha Motor Ventures & Lab will be among the many key Presenters. He will share his global insights during his presentation titled: Reinventing Agriculture: How Robotics and Automation Will Save Farming in the 21st Century.

Since the FFE is focused on "Bringing Clarity to Growers," this Expo program offers an opportunity to attendees and presenters to learn from each other, form ties and jointly develop new methods and tools to make new harvests bigger and better than the last.

A trade show, all outdoor field demonstrations and group lunches of the latest automated machinery and farm drones are all part of the experience.

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