This is the robot Silicon Valley will turn to when it wants to disrupt farming.
The Ladybird is a solar-powered, autonomous, data-collecting robot built by Australian scientists to help make farming more efficient. In other words, it has clearly been engineered to include all of Silicon Valley's favorite buzzwords, and will surely be the industry's drone farmer of choice when the time comes to disrupt the farming industry.
The farmbot recently completed its first round of tests, which we covered here. Shortly after, University of Sydney researchers running those tests uploaded video of the robot in action, and it's worth another look. Right now, the Ladybird is an autonomous data collector that gives farmers in-depth information about their crops: it can map the yield, and identify problem areas where plants are suffering. Eventually, scientists hope it will help harvest crops, too.
These videos show the bot in action; the second explains its utility in greater depth.
"Here you can see the finished product driving autonomously on the farm," a researcher narrates in a lilting Australian drawl. "It lines itself up carefully and slowly, and speeds itself up to traverse the field. The flexible drive system minimizes soil damage while maximizing the ability to navigate potentially tight headland areas."
"The system is highly repeatable, achieving a perfect line-up every time," he adds. As climate change brings on extreme weather, desertification, and drought, farmers are going to need every tool at their disposal to keep yields high. Maybe farmbots can help.