Robocrop InRow is based upon the same technology as the successful and well-established Robocrop inter-row precision guidance system. Robocrop InRow uses a digital video camera to capture images of the crop ahead of the toolbar. These images are analysed to find the positions of the individual plants as they pass through the image. This information is then utilized for lateral steering of the hoe and individual synchronisation of the InRow weeder discs. The Robocrop computer is constantly adjusting the rotational speed of the discs to suit the variability of plant spacing.
The InRow weeder system uses a special shaped disc rotating about an axis and set to cultivate at a shallow depth (typically 10 to 20 mm) within the crop row. The crescent shaped disc profile is designed to arc around the plants and then cut in between the plants as it rotates around the axis. Rotation of the disc is synchronised with forward movement and the plant positional information from the imaging camera.
The disc is coupled directly to a hydraulic motor which is driven via a proportional hydraulic valve controlled by the Robocrop computer.
Row following is maintained accurately to within 10mm of average position of detected plant foliage via steered soil engaging disc wheels. The working depth of the InRow weeder disc is controlled via the parallel linkage wheel unit.
Disc profile and synchronization setup is designed to maximize cultivated area and provide adequate tolerance to plant misalignment, in order to minimize crop damage. The tolerance required depends on the growth habit of the crop plants. For crops with regular growth habits the uncultivated area can be very small.
Each camera can view a crop area of up to 2 m wide. Wider working widths are possible, requiring more cameras.
The specially designed plant detection cameras fitted on each parallelogram continuously monitor the passing plants. If a crop plant passes, the computer will send a signal to the hydraulic controlled tool.