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IIT Kharagpur's Latest Robot Can Detect, Cure Plant Diseases in Big Breakthrough

By: Sujit Nath

Edited By: Ahona Sengupta

News18

Last Updated: October 08, 2020, 12:04 IST

Kolkata

The robotic 'plant pathologist'. (Image: News18)

The robotic 'plant pathologist'. (Image: News18)

The robotic 'plant pathologist' has a ‘tracked mobile manipulator’, which aims to achieve the conflicting objectives of increased productivity and improved quality of plants.

In a major breakthrough, the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, has designed a robot that is capable of detecting plant diseases through camera-captured image analysis. It can also spray appropriate pesticide, as per the situation, to get healthy produce.

The robotic ‘plant pathologist’ has a ‘tracked mobile manipulator’, which aims to achieve the conflicting objectives of increased productivity and improved quality of plants. It is a tracked vehicle, which is suitable for negotiating rough terrain fields and a serial manipulator mounted on the tracked vehicle capable of holding the camera and pesticide spraying nozzle.

“The government of India is giving a major boost to innovative rural livelihood technologies. In May this year, the Finance Ministry had announced an economic stimulus of Rs 1.5 trillion to boost agricultural infrastructure and logistics. If we are looking at comprehensive development towards Atmanirbhar Bharat, the strategic importance of such technology development is profound,” the Director of IIT-Kharagpur, Professor V K Tewari, said.

The professor is an expert in farm machinery design and precision agriculture. “We have to take such technologies from the laboratory to the land,” he added.

Professor D K Pratihar (Department of Mechanical Engineering), who is leading the innovative project, said, “Our device can detect the plant diseases using camera and image analysis and consequently remove it. This will help the farmers to detect disease correctly. Further use of such a device instead of manual operation of spraying pesticide will protect the farmers from related probable health hazards.”

“We will soon resume the final assembly of the robotic system and field testing as we are recovering from the present COVID-situation. We have further plans in the future to make this robot autonomous and intelligent,” he said.

India is moving at an accelerated pace towards digitisation automation. The farm sector, which employs about 58 per cent of India’s workforce and contributes to about 14 percent of the current GDP, has adopted technological advancement to warrant uniform progress. However, farm mechanisation in India still has less than 50 per cent penetration.

This device has been fabricated by Sun Fab Industries Pvt Limited, Mumbai in collaboration with TECHNIDO.

“The serial manipulator will have dexterous workspace, making it capable of spraying the pesticides from the top, bottom and various sides of the plant, which may be difficult to achieve utilising the widely-used drones,” said Professor Alok Kanti Deb, Department of Electrical Engineering.

The device is a battery-driven one and once it is fully charged, it will be able to perform its duty in the field for about two hours. The robot will be operated remotely using buttons placed on a control panel and thus, a specialist technician may not be required for operating the robot in the field.

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first published:October 08, 2020, 12:04 IST
last updated:October 08, 2020, 12:04 IST