Design of an Autonomous Weeding Vehicle
Abstract: This thesis describes the development of an autonomous weeding vehicle for the agricultural industry. It has been done as a project at RMIT University in Melbourne and the aim was to develop a design for the vehicle which could later be used to develop a commercial product. The current trend in the agricultural industry is larger machines that can benefit from economies of scale. These heavy machines are causing three major problems for farmers; serious subsoil compaction, longer disruptions due to single vehicle failure and an inability to efficiently deal with weeds which have resulted in a rapid increase of herbicide resistant weeds. This project is an attempt at solving these problems by integrating the already existing stationary farming robot FarmBot with a lightweight, cost efficient, aesthetically pleasing and durable frame on wheels that can operate autonomously on farms and is being powered by solar energy. The project started by researching the agricultural industry and benchmarking similar products, which gave an understanding of the problem and how it could best be solved. Since many different parts had to be developed, it was decided that the complex problem was to be divided into several sub problems which were then solved parallel with each other. The different concepts were evaluated and a final product was developed visually using CAD. The finished vehicle was primarily made out of parts that can be ordered off the shelves as well as parts that can be 3D printed. It weighs 154 kg, the parts costs around USD 5300 and it is equipped to be able to operate autonomously for at least a day at a time. It is very easy to assemble and has a modular design, which simplifies further development.
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