Project name: Structured Ecological CULtivation with Autonomous Robots In Agriculture
Project acronym: SPECULARIA
Dates: 01.06.2018 - 31.05.2023
Total budget: 1,794,905.62 HRK
Funding: Croatian Science Foundation (HRZZ)
Project number: UIP-2017-05-4042
Website: http://specularia.fer.hr/

This project deals with concepts of compliant robot control, soft robotics, and heterogeneous robotic systems and utilizes them to help farmers in indoor organic agriculture.

The main goal is to develop a heterogeneous robotic system comprised of three agents: an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV), and a compliant multi-degree-of-freedom manipulator. The UAV is equipped with a lightweight multi-degree-of-freedom manipulator carrying sensors for plant surveillance. The manipulator enables the UAV to fly outside the danger area, where its prop wash wind gust can damage the plant. The UGV is equipped with a mechanism that allows it to transport growth unit containers, which are the smallest organization unit within the farm, consisting of a single or variety of plants. The compliant manipulator’s task is to perform delicate handling of plants, such as flower and fruit manipulation, and plant pruning. Each robot has a specific set of abilities, but when put to work together, they can be applied to achieve versatile goals in an unstructured environment, which an indoor organic farm most certainly is.

UAV with manipulator for inspection

Compliant manipulator for plant treatment

UGV for container transport

European Robotics Forum 2019

Members of our lab went to Bucharest, Romania, on 19 to 24 March, to take part in the European Robotics Forum 2019 to represent the robotics@fer.hr brand, which includes three robotics laboratories from the University of Zagreb Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing: LARICS, LABUST and LAMOR. There they took part in lectures and workshops, presented their work and some of the laboratories' robots and brought our work closer to the public and the robotics community.

The three laboratories were represented by LARICS members: Zdenko Kovačić, Matko Orsag, Ivana Mikolić, Antun Ivanović, Barbara Arbanas and Bruno Marić, who were at the robotics@fer.hr booth, talking about the brand and the laboratories. They brought some of the laboratories' robots representative of their work: the MORUS unmanned aerial vehicle, an aPad, two aMussels, a Pioneer mobile robot and a Coptervorx drone. Prof. Zdenko Kovačić was a member of the Georges Giralt PhD Award Jury, helping find the best among 5 robotics PhD candidates for this prestigious award. Asst. prof. Matko Orsag held lectures in two workshops: the first one was an Aerial Robotics Workshop where he presented the newest research results in the field of aerial robotics, particularly when it comes to geometric tracking control of aerial robots. The second workshop was Agricultural Robotics Workshop, where Matko presented the Specularia project. He talked applying technology available in the market for indoor farming which offers structured environments, specifically by deploying a heterogenous team of robots to work together to complete certain asks.

During the event, euRobotics also announced that LARICS was the ERL Emergency Service Robots Best Team of Season 2018/2019, which is a great honor and confirmation of our hard work done at ERL and in preparation for it. Zdenko Kovačić received the award for LARICS during the banquet at ERF. We would like to thank the organizers of ERL and ERF, as well as all participating teams, and we hope to see everyone next year, too!

You can see a couple of photos from the event by following this link.

Author: Anamarija Miličević
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