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Grant will allow UNL researchers to help shape future of farming

Grant will allow UNL researchers to shape future of farming
Grant will allow UNL researchers to shape future of farming(Ellis Wiltsey)
Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 4:29 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A nearly $500,000 grant from the USDA will allow researchers from the University of Nebraksa-Lincoln to potentially change the way farming is done.

For the past four years, a team at UNL has been working on agro-bot technology that’s aimed at making field maintenance easier.

They have created the Flex-Ro, a type of robot known as an Unmanned Ground Vehicle, or UGV.

UNL professor Santosh Pitla and his team of biological systems engineers hope it’s the future.

He says the machine can distribute seeds, chemicals, and fertilizers automatically.

It runs on batteries but also has a gasoline engine - meaning it can last for about 10 hours.

“60 horsepower robotic platform system that can actually go into the field and do field operations,” Pitla said. “This four-wheel steer and four-wheel drive. We have been working on this for the past four years and we got this one our and tested in the field last year and we are continuing to improve this platform.”

It’s controlled with a remote that was specifically created at UNL to run since nothing already on the market would work.

With that remote users can control it a few different ways. With the actual remote for those tighter maneuvers and to get it out in the fields, and after it can be programmed to run in the fields on its own.

With the grant, Pitla and his team are working on a way to refill the tanks that hold the seeds and other items, with drones, in hopes of making it more efficient.

Right now, the team is working on how to sync the Flex-Ro and those drones together.

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