A Bengaluru-based farm robotics start-up, Green Robot Machinery Pvt Ltd (GRoboMac), plans to pilot its battery-operated cotton picking robot called ‘Pragati’ in Tamil Nadu for harvesting the summer crop in June-July.
Manohar Sambandam, the founding partner and CEO of Green Robot Machinery Pvt Ltd, says that ‘We intend to deploy the four-arm version robot as a pilot on a 12-acre plot in Tamil Nadu.’
Cotton is grown as a summer crop in sections of the rice fallows in Tamil Nadu’s Cauvery delta region, and is harvested between June and July.
According to Mr. Sambandam, GRoboMac aims to commercialise ‘Pragati’ by the end of the kharif harvest season in October.
The robot utilizes 3D imaging artificial intelligence (AI) and has robotic arms designed specifically for the cotton crop. The company has yet to finalise the pricing for the device, which is aimed at cotton growers with landownership of five hectares or more.
The Lithium-ion battery-powered robot can pick up to 50 kgs per day from plants as tall as 5.5 feet. ‘It would be feasible for farmers with five hectares or more who can recover the cost of the machine over three seasons,’ he added.
GRoboMac, which has been developing the cotton picking device since 2014-15, is also looking at adding spraying functionality to the robot so that it could be used to spray pesticides, weedicides, herbicide, and foliar nutrition, he explained.
Spraying pesticides, herbicide and weedicides, as well as picking bolls, are labor-intensive processes in the cotton crop cycle that the company hopes to resolve.
‘We have recently delivered our first ‘Pragati’ cotton picking robot to the National Agriculture Higher Education Project Centre of Advanced Agricultural Science & Technology (NAHEP CAAST) in Parbhani District of Maharashtra.
Research and developments (R & D)
This two-arm cotton picking machine would be used by NAHEP CAAST for the improvement of new features and research at their facility, as well as for pilot deployment of these robots in Maharashtra’s cotton belt.
‘We are delighted to be working with NAHEP, Parbhani in their efforts to encourage robotics and drone-based agriculture mechanisation,’ Sambandam added. In addition, the company is in discussions with neighboring states like Karnataka and Telangana for pilots this venture.