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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #328596

Research Project: Sensing Technologies for the Detection and Characterization of Microbial, Chemical, and Biological Contaminants in Foods

Location: Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory

Title: A survey of unmanned ground vehicles with applications to agricultural and environmental sensing

item BONADIES, STEPHANIE - University Of Maryland
item Lefcourt, Alan
item GADSDEN, ANDREW - University Of Maryland

Submitted to: Proceedings of SPIE
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/17/2016
Publication Date: 5/17/2016
Citation: Bonadies, S., Lefcourt, A.M., Gadsden, A. 2016. A survey of unmanned ground vehicles with applications to agricultural and environmental sensing. Proceedings of SPIE. SPIE symposium paper, April 17-21, 2016, Baltimore MD.

Interpretive Summary: Automation is expected to play an increasingly important role in agriculture. This manuscript discusses existing and potential roles of unmanned ground vehicles in crop production, and contrasts advantages and disadvantages of using unmanned ground vehicles with use of unmanned aerial vehicles. One conclusion is that cost and sensitivity of instrumentation have been factors preventing wide scale commercial adoption of the technologies. It is predicted that, given the proliferation of experimental vehicles and the decreasing costs of instrumentation, use of unmanned ground vehicles by farmers will proliferate. This manuscript will be of interest to scientists who study, equipment manufactures who build, and farmers who use agricultural equipment.

Technical Abstract: Unmanned ground vehicles have been utilized in the last few decades in an effort to increase the efficiency of agriculture, in particular, by reducing labor needs. Unmanned vehicles have been used for a variety of purposes including: soil sampling, irrigation management, precision spraying, mechanical weeding, and crop harvesting. In this paper, unmanned ground vehicles, implemented by researchers or commercial operations, are characterized through a comparison to other vehicles used in agriculture, namely airplanes and UAVs. An overview of different trade-offs of configurations, control schemes, and data collection technologies is provided. Emphasis is given to the use of unmanned ground vehicles in food crops, and includes a discussion of environmental impacts and economics. Factors considered regarding the future trends and potential issues of unmanned ground vehicles include development, management and performance. Also included is a strategy to demonstrate to farmers the safety and profitability of implementing the technology.