We have previously talked about various agricultural robots, most of which are still in development. However, there is one robot, which is already commercially available – Slopehelper. It is primarily intended for use in vineyards and orchards.
Slopehelper is a revolutionary, fully autonomous system that enters into your plantations and covers the whole agricultural cycle without supervision and the presence of people. The Slovenian-designed autonomous crawler-mounted electric vehicle can be equipped with various attachments for specific tasks, such as mowing, weeding, mulching, spraying, aerating, and pruning.
Slopehelper can handle slopes up to 45 degrees, traveling at a maximum speed of 10 km/h (6 mph) and up to 14 hours on a single charge. It weighs around 1200kg (payload up to 1800 kg).
Operators start by towing it on a trailer to the field and then using the radio remote control to pull it from the trailer to the beginning of the first row of plants. Then they program the parameters of the task through the built-in interface and set the vehicle to autonomous mode.
Then the autonomous Slopehelper robot moves across the field, completing its assigned task, automatically moving up one row, turning at the end, and then heading down the next one. It uses differential GNSS to maintain its position between rows and also uses touch sensors on both sides to determine the location of the vines’ trunks.
Slopehelper will stop working after given command and number of rows or when the batteries reach 20%. After charging the batteries, the Slopehelper agro-system is ready for new tasks and managing new operations.
Any owner of the Slopehelper agro-system can get real-time feedback from the working machine, thanks to the TeroAir mobile application, which allows them to locate, monitor the vehicle at any time from any place and receive notifications about performance progress. If the robot encounters particularly difficult obstacles, it will inform the operator through the companion application. The operator will then remotely guide the vehicle as it either removes or makes its way around the obstacle.
With a Slopehelper, the winegrower is expected to save up to 90% of working hours. It also provides solutions for moving the sector forward with a further reduction in the use of fungicides, fossil fuels, and the release of carbon into the air. The basic package, which includes Slopehelper and four tools, is expected to cover nearly 80% of a farmer’s annual needs while costing less than a tractor.