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Rolls Royce tech on your planter: Robotic bugs for maintenance

Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The purpose of this is purely entertainment, but hey, if we can spread ideas or ignite imaginations, how awesome is that?...

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Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The purpose of this is purely entertainment, but hey, if we can spread ideas or ignite imaginations, how awesome is that?

In partnership with Harvard University and the University of Nottingham, Rolls Royce showed off some of their new tech at the Farnborough Airshow in the United Kingdom last week.

Their new tech, called IntelligentEngine comes with a vision to place varying types of robots in use for maintenance of aircraft engines. Rolls Royce, per their press release, compartmentalizes the technology into four different categories:

• Swarm Robots - These little bots collaboratively crawl around jet engines with a small camera to complete rapid visual inspections.

• Inspect Robots - As the name suggests, these bots are a network of 'periscopes' that are permanent within the jet engine for continuous inspection.

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• Remote Bore Blending Robots - Aside from the cool name, these robots are controlled by specialist engineers to complete complicated maintenance tasks even as far as using lasers to grind parts.

• FLARE - These are the snake-like robots that can travel through the engine (I imagine a 'matrix' type robot here). These FLARE bots will also deliver the Swarm bots for repairs as well.

While these are all well and dandy, I would like to add a fifth robot.

5. Mud Dwelling Removal Robot - Have you ever had a row plug on your planter from mud and you had to get out of tractor at 2:00 a.m. to clean it out? I certainly have, so now I want robots to do that on the fly instead.

Whoever said fully autonomous equipment won't work because of mud issues, clearly never had used a Mud Dwelling Removal Robot. I think I'll have to contact someone at Rolls Royce right away with this one.

Rolls Royce's technology is real. They are experimenting and demonstrating it at shows overseas as we speak. The application to agriculture can be even more immense than cleaning mud out of your planter. Micro Robots could do tasks all over the combine, tractors, grain bins - the whole works!

Imagine not having to crawl into tight spaces to hit the grease zerks (one of my least favorite jobs) or even counting the seed loss behind the combine for a type of auto calibration on the fly. Little robot bugs could be crawling behind the planter sensing seed and yield loss and optimizing the settings of the combine a thousand times a minute.

Not outside the realm of possibility....

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Related Topics: TECHNOLOGY
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