Agricultural machinery has witnessed innovative advancements from the days of hand tools to modern GPS and computer driven modern tractors where little human intervention is needed. Advancements have even led to a few agriculture robots. However, these robots are for a single use only and cannot be transferred to other agricultural tasks. Now though this is all changing because of the development of MAARS. MAARS (Modular Autonomous Agriculture Robotic System) is a robot with interchangeable modules to perform various farming task.
Now, computer controlled machinery has come to the world of onion, garlic, and watermelon crops. Planting and harvesting these crops is tedious, labor intensive, and increasingly expensive. Shortages in labor and higher cost necessitate the need for alternative methods to manual planting and harvesting. Today’s 500 acre farm requires over 100 field workers just to plant and harvest the onion crop. By using MAARS the same farmer can plant and harvest 500 acres with only 20 robots and 7 workers. The farmer could expect an average return on their investment within 2 years. While the garlic and watermelon agriculture business is not as large as the onion business in Georgia, they could still expect to make a profit on their investment in 2 years.
MAARS meets the farmers’ needs in these key areas:
1) Labor shortages- reduces the amount of labor needed by a 92 percent of labor cost
in the 3rd year
2) Productivity- 1 robot’s daily outpour equals 2.5 workers according to test runs
and simulations in the onion fields
3) One base that can be used with interchangeable plug and work modules for several different crops’ harvesting and planting; work modules that use “quick change” bolts and 2 cables
The advantages to using the MAARS system are manifold. Apart from being a labor saving device, it increases productivity and efficiency in the field. It offers a tremendous opportunity for the farmer to increase production while reducing cost and at the same time solves the labor shortage problem. This robot will give the farmer total control over his planting timetable. Farmers will now have the option to increase or reduce the amount of acreage planted at the last minute in relation to market conditions. Will agricultural robots solve all of a farmer’s problems? Of course not, but MAARS will provide a positive economic advantage for most farmer’s crops. MAARS will be available for use in the fields by the Fall of 2016.
picture- The picture is of the base prototype. The box located on the front contains the electronics for navigation and steering. The rear box contains the electronics for power distribution and the main motor.