Professor Bob Fisher and colleagues have been awarded a €1.3million share in a €5.4 million EU Horizon 2020 grant to research and prototype a gardening robot.
The TrimBot2020 project will investigate the underlying robotics and vision technologies necessary to prototype the first outdoor robot to trim roses, hedges and topiary.
The research will be performed in close collaboration with the TrimBot2020 consortium: Bosch, ETH Zürich, University of Amsterdam, University of Groningen, University of Freiburg, Wageningen University and Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture.
Consortium Coordinator, Professor Fisher, holds the Chair in Computer Vision at the School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh.
Professor Fisher explains the vision behind the project:
“We aim to develop a robot that can navigate over varying terrain using a map of the garden together with 3D scene analysis, and then visually servo (control) a novel electric plant cutter.
“Achieving this will require a combination of robotics and 3D computer vision research and innovation.”
To achieve its aims, the project will have to break new ground in 3D sensing, as the robot copes with real outdoor terrain, weather and lighting variations.
Professor Fisher says:
“The challenges will include self-localising and navigating over semi-regular surfaces with physical texture such as plants and around obstacles, visual servoing to align the vehicle with target plants, which may be moving in the breeze, align leaf and branch cutters to a compliant surface, and deliver all this on a small, battery-powered consumer-grade vehicle.”
The TrimBot2010 grant will run from January 2016 to December 2019, with Edinburgh receiving €1,324,814 for its part in the project.