Autonomous Vehicles / Robotics
Wed, Jul 26, 2017
1:20 PM to 3:20 PM
In this talk, I will show how small, collaborative, and autonomous robots could provide breakthrough solutions to key agricultural challenges. US agriculture is extremely efficient, producing large amount of foods with very little labor. A large driving force behind this success has been mechanization of large agricultural equipment. Harvesters, tractors, and even backhoes are increasingly being automated by the leaders of the agricultural equipment industry. There are many key problems in modern agriculture however, that are not directly addressable by large equipment, some examples include precision re-seeding after flood damage, inter-crop weeding for herbicide resistant weeds, and under canopy monitoring for plant health and stress. Perhaps we need a whole new class of reliable agricultural equipment: small, collaborative, heterogeneous robotic teams that work 24/7 under and above the canopy. Indeed, electronics, power-systems, control, and machine learning technologies are now at a critical point and we are poised to usher a breakthrough in small autonomous agricultural robots. I will discuss some of the work we have been doing at my lab in UIUC. My goal is to present an overview of the state-of-the-art in this technology and where breakthroughs are needed. I will also show interesting videos of these small robots doing useful things in agricultural settings.
Prof. Chowdhary is the author of over 80 peer-reviewed publications spanning the area of adaptive control, fault tolerant control, autonomy and decision-making, machine learning, vision and LIDAR based perception for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). He has led the development of over 10 Unmanned Aerial Systems for research. He is the winner of the Air Force Young Investigator Award, and the Aerospace Guidance and Controls Systems Committee Dave Ward Memorial award. His recent research is focused on the immediate need to create autonomous systems capable of long duration operation in harsh, uncertain, and changing outdoor environments.