Come winter, artificial intelligence equipped Saathi to guard, treat crops
Come winter this year, robots will be guarding tomato and potato crops from insects, birds and viruses, analyse the soil and spray insecticides in a targeted area at the CS Azad University of Agriculture and Technology, Kanpur.
Developed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, the robots can navigate through agricultural fields to help farmers keep an eye on the crops, leaves and flowers and guard them against attacks from insects.
“It will treat the crops and also send out instant alerts about the viruses infecting the soil, helping the farmer decide on a future course of action. It’s overall interventions will help the farmers get good crop quality and yield,” said professor Vishakh Bhattacharya, the maker of this robot.
Between October and November, these robots will be deployed at the CSA University fields to give their inputs on soil and crop conditions.
Bhattacharya said the use of pesticides to protect the crops from insect attacks not only pollutes the crops and fruits but also the soil and water. “We have named it Saathi, to help farmers alleviate the ill-effects of the current mode of farming,” he said.
Equipped with artificial intelligence, the robot has numerous sensors and cameras, which will help in scanning even the smallest detail.
“It will assess the affected area in the field and sprinkle pesticides just in that particular area, and not in the entire field,” he said. Even if one leaf on a plant is not infected, the robot will not spray it, Bhattacharya added.
Saathi robot will regularly assess soil health and provide the user or farmer estimates on growth of crops and production. Besides, it will also record the changes in the field and shoot off an analytical report.
“We have prepared this robot with Uttar Pradesh in mind. It will go to the CSA fields fully fed with details of diseases that harm potato and tomato crops, and the pesticides that are used,” he said.
The team at the mechanical engineering department has been working for two-and-a-half years on this robot with the last one year spent on fine-tuning it to perform specific tasks.