Hybrid locomotion for agricultural robotic platform : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Engineering in Electronics and Computer Engineering at Massey University, Turitea Campus, Palmerston North, New Zealand
The New Zealand dairy industry is an important component of the New Zealand economy with an annual income of 14 billion dollars. Due to its significance it is important that new technology is developed to further the industry and increase efficiency. Many precision agricultural robots and prototypes were reviewed in this thesis and the topic of hybrid locomotion was discussed. Using methods of hybrid locomotion, a design of a prototype with non-complex mechanisms has been presented in this thesis. Hybrid locomotion is a popular field among robotics where researchers and engineers design robots that has more than one mode of locomotion. By incorporating hybrid locomotion, it allows the robot to tackle unique terrains which most single locomotion style robots cannot. The prototype presented in this thesis uses the track leg hybrid locomotion style. This design allows the robot platform to get much closer to the ground which will allow the platform to carry sensors that needs to be within proximity to the ground to operate. The design allows the prototype to have two modes of locomotion, track mode and leg mode. IoT is the new trend in the world that can be used to remotely monitor and control devices. IoT in agriculture was also reviewed in this thesis and an IoT gateway circuit was designed and presented. A prototype was manufactured, which uses the cellular network and can receive data from sensors connected via 6 ADC inputs and the RS485 communication method which will allow the platform to carry various different sensors for data acquisition. The final product is intended to be used in a typical New Zealand dairy or life stock farm to gather parameters such as grass health and soil parameters which will be useful to researchers for data analysis and develop new fertiliser and grass types for animals in a farm. The IoT gateway prototype in this thesis will allow the robot to be fully autonomous and will allow the prototype to be operated remotely. The final prototype is intended to have bidirectional communication where the user can send commands and receive data remotely. This concept has the potential to be a very useful tool to agricultural researchers and scientists in agriculture. The preliminary testing showed promising results, but also suggested that more development and testing is necessary to further validate the design concept. The tests and results are presented and discussed in this thesis.