Design and application of a water powered irrigation robot




Fairfield, Kurt

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This paper reports the findings of conceptual design and application research for a novel use of irrigation fluid power to provide mobility to a legged autonomous, tethered irrigation robot. Systems already exist to convert fluid power to rotary motion to power various irrigation systems. The conceptual designs implement a McKibben actuator to generate linear motion with water as the process fluid and a compact 3DOF spherical joint to create a modular robot leg that can be used to create a legged ambulatory robot. A six-legged robot is proposed from the conceptual design of the modular leg. Irrigation was selected as the initial leading application, however, once deployed the devices provide a field-ready platform to facilitate a whole suite of agriculturally important activities; seeding, weed suppression, pest management, soil sensing, crop growth assessment, as well as creating a robust research platform. This work is the lead in research to provide a viable mechanism to facilitate control system and dynamic modelling ahead of full-scale prototyping and field testing.



robotics, irrigation, McKibben actuator