What is the RTU?
The RTU is an autonomous agricultural platform designed to be an adaptable and sustainable farm aid.
The RTU was developed to be a new approach to the farming cycle. Rather than having the size and power to pull up an entire field, the RTU has been designed to reduce compaction to the soil, whilst maximising its capabilities.
Electric from the ground up
Rather than using any form of combustion engine, the RTU is entirely electric. This means all of the power it needs, can be collected through environmentally friendly methods. Whether that is by a mains connection, or a complete off grid operation.
Historically this would not have been feasible in an agricultural setting due to power requirements required of such mobile platforms, however, electric motors and battery technology has come a long way in recent years.
We have built upon these innovations to create a state-of-the-art brushless drive for the RTU.
Making processes easier and more efficient
Included by default with every RTU is an advanced autopilot system meaning the robot can drive itself around. By utilising satellite feedback from every satellite system in operation (over 30 satellites at any point in time) alongside a mixture of on-board sensors, the robot knows where it is with up to 11mm of accuracy.
Once set up, you can let the robot self-deploy on a mission and even monitor it remotely through your computer, tablet or smart phone.
If sky visibility is limited, optional RTK base stations can also be used to ensure the robot maintains a high accuracy for all its operations.
Strong and simple
Built almost entirely out of aluminium with mounting surfaces on the top, front and rear of the traction units, the RTU was built to last when out in the elements.
Featuring a low centre of mass and a wide footprint thanks to its tracked design, the RTU can drive in any orientation on surfaces up to a 54 degree incline.
With over 11KW of brushless power, a top speed of 3mph and enough battery capacity to allow for continued operation over 24Hrs, it may not win any speed awards, but it can tow away the competition.
Interchangeable truss frame
Connecting together the traction units is a truss frame made entirely out of 48.3mm scaffolding pipes. By using such a standard material, it means the robot becomes very easy to configure for your needs.
Additionally, each traction unit communicates wirelessly to one another. No exposed wires or cables to get in the way.
This means you can easily adapt it to suit your needs. If you need something wide to cover more rows or something tall to navigate vineyards, simply adjust the truss and away you go. With this flexibility it also broadens the realm of modularity.
We provide a standard port on the front of the unit which offers a power source should you want to attach any additional instruments. 12v electric strimmer? Simply connect it up to this power source and clamp it to the truss frame, now your RTU has become an autonomous strimming machine!
"A low-cost lifeline for farmers"
Featured in over 50 publications internationally. When we started to show off the RTU, it raised all sorts of attention. Why? Because we were also completely open about the price point we were aiming to sell the platform at.
As we continue to develop the platform, we hope to be able to offer the base unit with all the added functionality, at this same price point.
Designed, Developed, Tested and Built in
Collaboration is key
Our goal is for the RTU platform to become a versatile tool for the modern farm. This has meant we have opened up and collaborated heavily with individuals and businesses to create new and unique applications to solve difficult problems. Some problems can be solved with simple modifications or addons to the current platform, other challenges require a whole new toolset.
One great example is the collaborative work with Cornish Essential Oils. We are working with them to develop a range of add-ons to solve tasks which historically have been very labour intensive.
A.i. Spray System
With cameras in the arms and a custom trained artificial intelligence to recognise different types of weeds and crops, this system can target and directly spray weeds that are growing too close to your main crops.
Project Collaboration: Robotriks, Cornish Essential Oils, University of Plymouth MEng Robotics Students – Miguel Iqbal Zamora, Annabell Mears, Joshua Walker, Yasmin Deer
Featuring 3 metal jaws that open up upon ground penetration, this module lets the RTU become an autonomous planter able to mark and plant on soft or hard ground, or through weed controlling plastic.
Project Collaboration: Robotriks, Cornish Essential Oils, University of Plymouth MEng Robotics Students – Rhys Brown, Steven Isaac, Luke Warren, Conor Gallagher
Utilising a high-power electric ram and an interchangeable sensor head, the soil sensor module can collect a wide range of data about the health of the soil below. From compaction to moisture, carbon content and biological matter, by incorporating the autopilot system, you can now take measurements across the entire field at whatever interval you desire. From every 10cm to every meter, all without human intervention. The results are then stored with the corresponding location data for you to view and analyse.
Your data is very valuable, this is why there is such a huge industry built around collecting it. We don’t want to do that. We want to ensure all the data collected and processed on the robot is yours to keep and use locally. No internet connection required. No subscription plans. This data can be very large, especially when you are creating a 3D scanned map of your fields at sub millimetre accuracy for visualisation and simulation purposes. The compute unit has been designed to handle all of that from on-board the platform.
RTU Design Evolution
With over 40 physical prototype iterations and hundreds of CAD and simulated platforms, the journey to design a robust platform has been a long one and this page was our first reveal.