Gardening can be a lot of fun. You can grow your own fruits and vegetable and always have fresh flowers for decorating your home. Working in your garden is kind of therapeutic – it is almost like meditation. But in some cases a robot, which could prune roses and trim bushes, would be useful.
Scientists from Wageningen University and Research, the Universities of Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Groningen and Freiburg, ETH Zurich and Bosch have created a robot that can self-navigate and automatically prune roses and trim bushes. Trimbot, as this little fella is called, is designed to navigate itself in a garden and trim various plants. And to accomplish these tasks it needs some impressive technologies, such as cameras and 3D mapping. Trimbot has five pairs of cameras, which allow this robot to see the world as we do – in 3D. Trimbot is pre-programmed with a rough outline of a garden to aid navigation. It does its job with a flexible robotic arm and an automated lawnmower, both designed by Bosch.
You may be wondering, what is Trimbot good for. While you may enjoy doing gardening, it is less than a hobby for cities that have vast green areas to maintain. Trimbot would also be extremely useful for elderly or disabled people who struggle to keep up their yards and gardens. Professor Bob Fisher, one of the scientists behind the project, said: ”Getting the robot to work reliably in a real garden was a major feat of engineering. The eight partner teams developed new robotics and 3D computer vision technology to enable it to work outdoors in changing lighting and environmental conditions”.
As much as it is a great robot gardener, Trimbot is also a huge engineering achievement, which will lead to improvements in robotics. Although trimming may not seem like a big deal for you, it is a difficult task for a robot. Trimbot scans the bush with all of its eyes and compares its silhouette with the ideal shape for that particular bush. This helps the Trimbot to determine which branches are in need of cutting. It is even more impressive to see what Trimbot can do with roses. The problem with them is that you cannot cut them at a random spot. Trimbot’s technology pinpoints the exact part of each plant’s stem that should be cut and then the robot cuts its using a special tool.
Trimbot will not reach series production, but its technologies will be incorporated into the future Bosch gardening range. It is a great achievement and someday we will look at Trimbot as a precursor of our gardening robots.
Source: University of Edinburgh