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Comparative Study of Soil Interaction and Driving Characteristics of Different Agricultural and Space Robots in an Agricultural Environment

Malte Wirkus; Stefan Hinck; Christian Backe; Jonathan Babel; Vadim Riedel; Nele Reichert; Andrej Kolesnikov; Tobias Stark; Jens Hilljegerdes; Hilmi Dogu Kücüker; Arno Ruckelshausen; Frank Kirchner
In: Journal of Field Robotics (JFR), Vol. 41, Pages 1-34, Wiley, 4/2024.


This paper investigates four different mobile robots with respect to their driving characteristics and soil preservation properties in an agricultural environment. Thereby, robots of classical design from agriculture as well as systems from space robotics with advanced locomotion concepts are considered to determine the individual advantages of each rover concept with respect to the application domain. Locomotion experiments were conducted to analyze the general driving behavior, tensile force, and obstacle‐surmounting capability and ground interaction of each robot. Various soil conditions typical for the area of application are taken into account, which are varied in terms of moisture and density. The presented work covers the specification of the conducted experiments, documentation of the implementation as well as analysis and evaluation of the collected data. In the evaluation, particular attention is paid to the change in driving characteristics under different soil conditions, as well as to the soil stress caused by driving, since soil quality is of critical importance for agricultural applications. The analysis shows that the advanced locomotion concepts, as used in space robotics, also have positive implications for certain requirements in agricultural applications, such as maneuverability in wet conditions and soil conservation. The results show potential for design innovations in agricultural robotics that can be used, to open up new fields of application for instance in the context of precision farming.


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