Autonomous tech delivers horticulture labour saving solutions
Australian and United States Blueberry farms have recorded an average 25 per cent increase in daily productivity thanks to an autonomous vehicle.
Called “Burrow” the electric self-driving platform robots are designed to remove non-productive time on horticulture farms thanks to its ability to carry, tow and work with people.
This innovation, plus the GOtrack retro-fit system was showcased by Agriculture Victoria and Agri Automation Australia as part of the first in a series of monthly webinars.
Chris Theisen from Burrow joined from the US where he said the Burrow has been used to carry stone fruit, citrus, table grapes, blueberries and other nursery products.
He said the blueberry productivity gains came from data collected in Australian and Californian orchards.
Chris said the Burrow replaced “tractor time” when the person on the tractor could be doing something more productive.
Practically, he said the Burrow also removed the requirement for humans to walk in and out of rows delivering fruit for transport to quality control.
Chris said the Burrow could be trained to travel to certain pickers or pickers could stop the Burrow in its tracks – for loading – by stepping-out in front of it and pressing a button.
“It’s like a conveyor belt coming in and out of the field,” he said.
The Burrow replaced the “chain gang” style of “handing plants down a line” at strawberry fields.
There are now a “couple of hundred” Burrows on the ground throughout the world, with a total of 55,000 autonomous miles travelled.
An autonomous GPS auto drive system that can be retrofitted to existing machinery was also showcased as part of the webinar.
Called the GOtrack Auto Drive, representative Cam Clifford said it was the most advanced system for autonomous tractor operation on the market.
Using the system a tractor could be operated by an app with various paths – or driving tasks – saved in a system for the user to select.
It also includes a variety of safety features such as sms alarms.
Cam told the webinar it could be suitable for applications where there were issues with driver concentration or fatigue.