To reduce dependency on animals and manual labour to plough small farms, the final year mechanical engineering students of Don Bosco Engineering College, Margao, have designed a solar-powered robot to complete the task. Santosh Mishra, Dhirendra Singh, Sawant Krishnanath Sundar, Abhinav Parulekar and Akash Yadav have developed a prototype machine, which can be operated using a cell phone using Bluetooth and SMS, to plough small land holdings, typically found in the Indian agriculture landscape.
Akash Yadav said that the robot comes with multiple features such as de-weeding, collecting dry leaves and cutting grass. “The robot is our first step towards building a complete farming kit. Considering the topography, we have designed the machine to be used in paddy fields. It has been successfully tested several times in moist conditions. A single charge can run the robot for 75 minutes. The prototype cost us 30,000, but with solar panels becoming cheaper, the cost can be reduced further.”
The robot, equipped with three sensors to detect incoming obstructions, can plough 200-400 sq m to a depth of 7cm. A 14W capacity solar panel converts the solar radiations into electricity which is stored. A cast iron plough, mounted on an aluminium body then ploughs the land. Later additions, according to the team will include features to sow the seeds as well. “The project will be continued by our juniors to make it a multi-purpose small farm robot,” Akash said.
Currently, the team, led by their mentor, professor Ajit Salunke, is working on a paper, which will be presented in an international seminar to be held in Bengaluru. “This idea, if implemented on a commercial scale can benefit about 70 per cent farmers of India and also small gardens which are coming up in cities. We will be applying for a patent after this paper is presented in Bangalore,” Salunke said.