Editor's note: You can listen to my conversation with Santosh Pitla by clicking on the Soundcloud link above.
Over the last three years, Santosh Pitla, assistant professor of advanced machinery systems at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the Biological Systems Engineering Department have been designing and building an autonomous piece of machinery called the "Flex-Ro," or flexible robot.
"We are trying to develop a multipurpose field robotic platform. One of the applications for this is phenotyping in the field," Pitla says. "We are also looking at targeted weed management. Herbicide-resistant weeds are becoming common, so how can we manage weeds with automation? That is another important goal of this project.
“Also, this platform has a hydrostatic transmission. It has around 46 hp, so we can use it for two-row planting. That's another goal: to develop a multipurpose robotic platform that can be used in broad acre crop production."