Thursday, 09 November 2017 17:44

SwarmFarm, Bosch bringing robotics to Australian farms

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Robot technologies are predicted to bring new efficiencies to traditional farming practices as farming equipment such as tractors, sprayers and planting equipment become increasingly larger and more complex, according to one robotics start-up company.

Queensland-based start-up SwarmFarm has partnered with Bosch Australia to develop the SwarmBot technology platform which it claims will deliver “a paradigm shift” in efficiency to farmers.

According to SwarmFarm, the next-generation technology will enable farmers to undertake new field practices and deploy technology into their farming systems through the use of “swarms of smart, mobile and automated robots”.

“This trend is unsustainable due to the limitations of current farming practices. Traditional tractors and current generation driverless commercial technologies are confined by what can be attached to the back of the vehicles and the inputs they can carry,” SwarmFarm predicts.

SwarmFarm founder and chief executive Andrew Bate said the new partnership with Bosch was a major milestone for the company following the official launch of its “ground-breaking” autonomous SwarmBot robots, which have been deployed in Australia since 2016.

“The SwarmBot is not a driverless tractor, just as the tractor was not an evolution of the horse-drawn plough. Horses were completely replaced. The next revolution in farming will not be underpinned by a tractor,” Bate said.  

He says the SwarmBot platform is an entirely new development that has evolved from the ground up, and utilises robotic technology and an ecosystem of independent developers that will create modular technology for application to the platform.

According to SwarmFarm, robotic agriculture will enable farmers to achieve consistency previously unattainable using traditional farming methods. Increasing yields and decreasing inputs.

Bate says SwarmFarm will work with Bosch to redesign its SwarmBot robotic platform for commercial production.

Under the partnership with Bosch, SwarmFarm will develop the final production model of the SwarmBot ahead of commercial sales to farmers slated for mid-2018.

“We’re incredibly excited to be working together with Bosch in a joint development to redesign the SwarmBot robotic platform for commercial production,” Bate said.

“This new partnership will ensure that we can begin manufacture and delivery of our new robot design to early-adopter farmers in the new year. We’re proud to be developing this cutting-edge technology in partnership with Bosch.”

Bate said Bosch brings mechanical engineering expertise, system design knowledge and automotive industry know-how to the redesign of the SwarmBot platform.

“We are entering the fourth revolution in agriculture, which now includes automation, sensing equipment, cloud computing and real-time data usage, to realise efficiencies in the agricultural value chain” explained Gavin Smith, president of Bosch Australia. “We are delighted to be partnering with SwarmFarm to help bring about this transformation in Australian farming and the rest of the world.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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