Autonomous machinery company “SwarmFarm Robotics” has made a name for itself with its lightweight, low-cost, autonomous robots. Known as SwarmBots, the company’s collision-avoiding technology allows multiple robots to work on the same task together as a “swarm.” The company has now unveiled its new “Dock and Refill” technology that will allow the SwarmBots to autonomously refill inputs and refuel on their own.
Andrew Bate, CEO of SwarmFarm Robotics, believes SwarmFarm’s new Dock and Refill capability is truly revolutionary, “Because up until now, farm equipment productivity was tied to machine size and the payload it could carry.” As Bates explains, “The only reason modern farm machinery is so big is because farmers have been demanding more acres per day per person. There is no other reason.”
However, Bates says the downside is “the excess weight of these machines, the damage to the soil, the complexity of designing large machines, and the cost to build and maintain them.” That’s why SwarmFarm intentionally designed its robots to be lightweight. “And we have delivered excellent productivity with a 24/7 operation. Some of our customers are achieving over 3,000 hours of use each year,” Bates notes.
For a lightweight, autonomous machine carrying small payloads to reach its full potential, though, Bates says it needs to be able to refill itself. “Otherwise, farmers are required to refill robots in the middle of the night or are interrupted when doing other tasks around the farm.”
“Our Dock and Refill technology opens up new opportunities for high volume application blanket spraying for products such as fungicides, insecticides, and liquid fertilizer application”, Mr. Bate explains. “The technology can handle granular products, so this enables opportunities for achieving the same productivity gains for field operations including planting, applying granular or dry products such as fertilizer, lime, gypsum, and organic products such as mulch, biologicals fertilizers, as well as harvesting.”
Bates says SwarmFarm has now covered 2.2 million commercial acres, 115,000 hours of operation, and reduced pesticide inputs by an estimated 2 million tons with its autonomous robots. The Dock and Refill technology is mobile and can be either attached to a trailer or set up in a fixed position central to the farm. Currently, SwarmFarm is finishing up its alpha testing in Australia. It will be launching a beta in November. Dock and Refill is expected to be commercially available worldwide in April 2024. Learn more at SwarmFarm’s website HERE. The company also has a gallery of videos showing its SwarmBots in action HERE. (Sources: Future Farming, RobotShop)