The Irrigator : Autonomous watering robot for homes
Abstract: Inspired by the trend of automated homes, this thesis examines the possibility of designing a cheap and autonomous robot that will water plants effectively at home. Many existing solutions are cumbersome and not sufficiently effective, often due to flexibility and risk of over watering. Therefore this thesis examines a wheel based approach. In order to achieve the best possible results, the soil water content was measured, as opposed to a time-based approach where the user sets a timer to decide how often the plants are watered. This thesis also examines the advantages, and disadvantages of a capacitive moisture sensor versus a resistive moisture sensor, as well as effects of depth of penetration for the sensors. Controlled using an Arduino Uno, the robot was programmed to follow a line with IR-sensors, drive using differential steering, and had the ability to drive in reverse. It was able to identify a pot, read the moisture level of the soil, water it, and continue the loop. However, it was not completely autonomous as it is incapable of refilling the water tank – or recharging the batteries. It was stated that the resistive sensor was most suited to be used in the robot due to the relatively reliable results at increased depth. The results at deeper penetration were expected, as the moisture increased with depth when not recently irrigated. The capacitive sensor showed somewhat ambiguous results. The results showed higher water content deeper into the soil, compared to recently irrigated soils.
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