Robotics involved in agricultural production is being proven in research, and the University of Arizona (UA) has installed a new agricultural robotics system on 1.5 acres of cultivated land at the Arizona Maricopa Agricultural Center.

Robotic data gathering on 1.5 acres could pave the way for much larger or commercial operations using robotics in the not too distant future. 

The UA robotic “scanalyzer” is the largest field crop analytics robot in the world, incorporating cameras and sensors that measure and record crop growth and development with “unprecedented resolution,” according to the description and announcement by the university.

The scanalyzer is to be used for a complicated research project to facilitate “the improvement of advanced biofuel crops, specifically energy sorghum.” The scientific reference explains that the robotics project is part of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA) program.

Robotics data gathering is needed for the university “to generate and channel extremely large data sets that capture the dynamics of plant growth and response to ambient conditions in the low desert under their natural environment.”

An equipment demonstration by the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy is being conducted Thurs., June 2, at the Maricopa Agricultural Center.