Continental develops autonomous agriculture robot

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Continental’s autonomous agricultural robot will work autonomously, carrying out seeding, planting or fertilising work.

The Contadino individually and autonomously fertilises each plant in a field

German tyre and automotive parts manufacturer Continental has developed an autonomous mobile robot which it says can sow, plant and fertilise seeds autonomously.

Dubbed the Contadino, the robot was displayed at the ITS World Congress, held in Hamburg in October, as one of three autonomous mobile robots developed by the manufacturer.

The Contadino robot has been designed to provide a low weight and compact autonomous solution for agriculture, with the unit weighing just 250kg when combined with a seeding, planting or fertiliser module.

Soil compaction caused by heavy equipment is a problem in agriculture that can lead to declining soil quality and thus lower yields, says Continental – thus the need for a light weight.

The Contadino works autonomously and, through using a satellite communication system (Real Time Kinematics Global Networking Satellite System) and networking with weather apps, the autonomous robot can precisely target each plant to within three centimetres. In this way, with data on soil conditions and rainfall, each plant can be fertilised individually, and yields increased while reducing the amount of fertiliser used.

With the Contadino, Continental provides a robust, reliable robotics platform with open software and hardware interfaces for which third parties can also develop individual working modules.

Continental has also developed a small delivery robot called the Continental Corriere, and an autonomous intralogistics robot for production plants, warehouses and logistics centres.

"We developed a customised robotics solution that is now very successfully integrated into every-day production at Continental's plants for hydraulic brake systems in Slovakia and in Changshu near Shanghai in China," says Pierre Pomper, head of the autonomous mobile robots segment at Continental.

"Continental's presence at the ITS Congress shows that intelligent mobility does not just  

mean transporting people from A to B," explains Michael Hülsewies, senior vice president and head of architecture and software at Continental.

"Innovative mobility also means meeting the challenges of higher logistics volumes, implementing sustainable ideas for the transport and distribution of goods and offering smart solutions that support resource-efficient food production in agriculture. For all these areas, robotics applications are an ideal complement to existing structures." 

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