TIRELESS WORKER: The AgBot during trials at the Bates family property, Bendee, east of Gindie.
TIRELESS WORKER: The AgBot during trials at the Bates family property, Bendee, east of Gindie. Contributed

Weed killing robot trials in Central Highlands a world first

SWARMS of robotic vehicles tending to crops and killing weeds sounds like the work of science fiction, but not for Andrew Bates, who believes the AgBot is the future of farming.

The AgBot, developed by the Queensland University of Technology's Farm Robotics project and being trialled this week at Andrew Bates' Bendee farm, is a world first.

"The idea of these robots is that they will be small and lightweight enough that they won't actually compact the soil as they travel over the ground," Andrew said.

He said automated tractors had been built years ago but were impractical.

 

"What we're looking at is small swarms of multiple machines - very simple machines with very minimal moving parts, and the true genius of these machines is how they work in a system rather than the robot themselves."

 

QUT's Professor Gordon Wyeth is the brains behind the AgBot and said it could save the wheat industry $620 million a season on weeding alone.

The vision for the AgBot is a cheap, efficient machine that could cost as little as $20,000.

Realistically a 4000ha farm could have 100 AgBots, Prof Wyeth said.

Andrew hopes robots will transform farming.

"Better placement of chemicals and fertilisers … will result in less nutrient, sediment and pesticide run-offs into waterways and ultimately on the great barrier reef," he said.


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