Prospero: Robotic Farmer
Not an open source project but on the links below there are lots of info about the project.
Prospero is the working prototype of an Autonomous Micro Planter (AMP) that uses a combination of swarm and game theory and is the first of four steps. It is meant to be deployed as a group or "swarm". The other three steps involve autonomous robots that tend the crops, harvest them, and finally one robot that can plant, tend, and harvest -- autonomously transitioning from one phase to another.
Prospero is controlled with a Parallax Propeller chip mounted on a Schmart Board (Schmartboard 2010 MCU contest http://forum.schmartboard.com/index....8.html#msg1038). Its body is designed by Lynxmotion and the original programming allows it to walk autonomously in any direction while avoiding objects with its duel ultrasonic Ping without turning its body. An under body sensor array allows the robot to know if a seed has been planted in the area at the optimal spacing and depth. Prospero can then dig a hole, plant a seed in the hole, cover the seed with soil, and apply any pre-emergence fertilizers and/or herbicides along with the marking agent. Prospero can then talk to other robots in the immediate proximity that it needs help planting in that area or that this area has been planted and to move on via IR (currently represented with a green and red LED ). The more seeds it plants, the more the "green" LED lights up, the more it draws other robots nearby (+2). The more it detects planted seeds, the more it repulses other robots with the "red" LED (-1)
The most expensive and awkward part of farming is human labor. By replacing this with robots, we move towards efficient, automated farms.
Soil nutrients and moisture change from foot to foot. Having equipment like combines that allow a person to plant a thousand acres in a day comes at the cost of productivity per acre as a result of treating all those acres as the same. A swarm of small robots like Prospero would have the ability to farm inch by inch, examining the soil before planting each seed and choosing the best variety for that spot. This would maximize the productivity of each acre, require less land to be converted to farm land, feed more people, and provide a higher standard of living for those people because they would spend less of their money on food.
Could we create a similar project? Could a robotic farmer swarm provide privileges compared traditional farming using OSE?