This platform was built using 3D printed parts and aluminum tubes. It used large diameter BLDC motors and small gear ratios to become interactive and backdrivable. Using this proof of concept, we demonstrated full-body loco-manipulation control, force sharing between the actuators, and localization in arbitrary terrain. The project was funded by Switzerland's SNSF Spark grant.
Compared to manipulators mounted on wheels, the floating system easily eliminates the challenge of ground locomotion over inclined and uneven terrains. The robot can therefore operate over steep gardens and automate various labor-intensive tasks. It runs on solar power, operates untethered, and offers a day-long performance at a very competitive price.
Our manipulator reaches plants from different sides and offers a safe physical interaction. It can spray, cut, monitor, and carry products/tools around. The entire system benefits from state-of-the-art control and AI algorithms to enable mobility and manipulation. It can also host third-party gardening tools/services on its powerful computation and communication resources.