A Robot That is Able to Grow Corn

Mexico City, Jul 18 (IANS/EFE): A Mexican student has designed a robot capable of doing farm work including "plowing, planting, spraying and harvesting" corn, authorities said.

"Though a prototype does not yet exist of the parallel robot guided by cables that will automate corn growing, Eduardo Rodriguez Hernandez, its inventor, has fully developed the concept of its operation and control," the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, said Saturday.

The idea arose last September during a master's programme at the School of Engineering.

Rodriguez Hernandez, a researcher in mechatronics, decided to design "a prototype with the functions of an experienced farmer" so that it could be put to work growing corn, a cereal native to Mexico, which produces some 22 million tonnes a year.

"This kind of parallel robot is made up of four towers that could be installed on any kind of land, either flat or on a slope, even on rough, rugged ground," the aspiring engineer said.

His invention has advantages including its low cost, and its drawbacks, like the fact that being a robot controlled by cables it has little freedom of movement in some cases.

Despite that, its inventor believes it will be able to "prepare cropland and spread chemical fertilizers - nitrogen or phosphorus - and natural fertilizers" without any major problems, and will also plant corn seeds to a certain depth.

"Another facet is the spraying of chemicals to eliminate weeds and pests like rodents and insects. Finally there's the harvest, when it cuts and retrieves the product," the scientist said.

A native of Huachinango in the central Mexican state of Puebla, the scientist is the son of Mexican farmers.

He is beginning to work on building the prototype and on simplifying the operations the robot will perform, which are based on mathematical analyses for moving the mechanical parts, and giving the robot's central platform and cables the necessary rigidity.

"Very soon we hope to make a design of the prototype, but we do have to say that sometimes it's not easy to imagine such things," the researcher said.


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Title: A Robot That is Able to Grow Corn

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