Robotics Plus launches Prospr as a multi-use autonomous vehicle for agriculture

Prospr will initially employ its autonomous ability with orchard and vineyard growers to replace manual labour

Ben Reyngoud has the power in his hands with a remote controller as he gets ready to run the just released for market Robotics Plus autonomous Prospr Q4 to spray along grape vines  

Prospr has been launched as a fully autonomous modular platform to replace workers for a variety of tree crop and vine tasks, including intelligent spraying with much improved efficiency.

Prospr is the brainchild of New Zealand-based agritech company Robotics Plus who explain the product as an autonomous multi-use, hybrid vehicle designed to carry out orchard and vineyard cropping tasks more efficiently than manual labour.

Prospr runs on an all-electric drive system with onboard power generation from a Tier 4 diesel generator, and this allows it to operate for extended periods without charging or refuelling.

Regenerative braking and high-capacity batteries also work to extend its range while an intelligent all-wheel-drive system incorporates power from independent wheel motors.

Prospr will initially come with an arsenal of multiple swappable tools, including tower sprayer attachments for grapes, apples, and other tree crops.

Robotics Plus founders Steve Saunders CEO (left) and Dr Alistair Scarfe Chief-Engineering Officer (right) are over the production hurdle with models now ready to deliver

The makers suggest they will eventually offer an attachment tool for every job around the farm, different attachments for the vehicle will depend on the day’s work, and multiple Prospr units can collaborate in a fleet to get the job done quicker.

The autonomous vehicle uses a combination of perception systems to sense the environment, enabling data-driven results.

Robotics Plus has chosen to showcase Prospr for the first time offshore, at a California-based event dedicated to autonomous agriculture and agricultural robotics solutions, where the makers believe plenty of interest will be garnished.

Steve Saunders, Co-founder and Chief Executive at Robotics Plus explains the role Prospr will play, “The agriculture industry faces unprecedented challenges as this generation works to produce more food sustainably while reducing emissions and supplying at a lower cost.

Shown here are two Prospr Q4 with two spray fans on each side and the ability to turn on their rear axle and only need headland space of 7.1m (23ft) for row-to-row turning

“We’ve focussed on utilisation and flexibility with a unique modular architecture, allowing different tools for various crop types and applications year-round to maximise return on investment.

“The first vehicles will start rolling out to customers later this month. Achieving a fantastic milestone for the passionate and dedicated Robotics Plus team,” Steve Saunders added.

Dr. Alistair Scarfe, Co-founder and Chief Engineering Officer at Robotics Plus went on to say, “We’ve made multiple technology advances for Prospr, including a remodelled platform for tools, additional spraying attachments, and a user interface to aid management and planning.

“We’ve also ensured machine connectivity, control, safety and localisation. Prospr has its own wireless network, keeping vehicles online and enabling software updates for additional functions as they become available.

“We’re really proud to release another world-leading robotic innovation to market, all due to the expertise of our outstanding team and partners,” Dr. Alistair Scarfe concluded.

This Prospr Q4 spraying grapes will find a ready market of wine growers with a minimum row width of 1.85m (6.07ft) gives growers the option to deploy automation

Modular design

Prospr can run across a small footprint and has a steering configuration that combines electric steering and independent motors.

The vehicle can turn on its rear axle and only needs minimum headland space of 7.1m (23ft) for row-to-row turning. While minimum row width is 1.85m (6.07ft) giving growers the option to deploy automation in a wide range of applications and various crop types.

This row-to-row turning ability means ground is covered faster, maximising productivity and spray time when compared to machines that turn on every second row or greater.

The vehicle’s lightweight design, combined with its unique tyre and wheel configuration, reduces ground compaction.

Co-founder Steve Saunders adds, “We’ve delivered a highly adaptable modular vehicle and are partnering with industry leaders to deliver various technologies for our tools. The first of these partnerships is with Croplands, a leader in sprayer technology.

“Our ongoing partnership with Yamaha Motor Co is also helping us refine and productise our vehicle for scale. This significantly increases the robustness and support for Propsr in demanding and ever-changing agricultural environments,” Steve Saunders concludes.

Q Series Sprayers

Q Series Sprayers have already been developed by Robotics Plus in conjunction with Croplands, and these will allow growers to deploy a range of spray configurations, adapting to various crop types, growing formats and application heights. 

The Q4 and Q6 sprayers from the model line have two or three fans on either side and are best suited to grape, apple, or tree crops.

While the Q8 sprayer comprises eight fans, four on each side are able to take on the biggest of tasks and are best suited to apple crops.

Spray rates and air speed are dynamic and controlled per fan to maximise spray efficacy through electric drive and control systems.

The sprayers are built upon Croplands Quantum™ fans that produce a fine mist and turbulent air for better coverage from the superior droplet formation and spray deposition.

Prospr is built to work with multiple units as they can be managed simultaneously by one operators from a single remote control mobile console

Safety comes first

To implement Prospr, a mesh network is installed to give a more consistent connection and interaction with the machine, improving operational efficiency and user safety.

Operators can manage and streamline the day’s work with an organisational tool with an easy-to-use interface.

Coordination is enabled between team members with multi-language support across various desktop and mobile devices.

Jobs can be logged in advance and viewed in real time, while completed or in-progress jobs are mapped and recorded digitally.

Multiple machines can be managed simultaneously by one or two operators from a single remote control via a fixed or mobile console.

Prospr is available for delivery now. For more information go to:
See Prospr in action on this video link.