Autonomous hypercart for crop sensing
To monitor crop status like disease development in potato crops, a motor driven controlled and steered hypercart equipped with different sensors was built by ILVO. This hypercart was constructed from an aluminium frame with a width of 2.25 m, a height of 2.3 m and a length of 3 m. Different sensors can be mounted on a moving beam in order to scan crops in a plot of 0.85 m by 3 m. The hypercart can be equipped with up to five sensors to gather RGB, multispectral, hyperspectral and height information about the canopy i.e. (1) a RGB camera (D90, Nikon, Japan), (2) a multispectral camera (Sequoia, Parrot, ), (3) a hyperspectral snapshot mosaic camera (made by 3D-one and based on an IMEC CMOS-chip, 41 bands from 470-975 nm), (4) a hyperspectral linescan sensor (Imspector V9, 430-900 nm) and (5) a LiDAR sensor (SICK, LMS111). During field measurements, the hypercart was covered with a black cloth to eliminate external light disturbance. A combination of 18 halogen spot lights (50W, OSRAM Decostar) mounted on the moving beam produced artificial light conditions in order to generate uniform and stable lighting conditions. The hypercart can operate completely autonomous thanks to the use of two lithium-ion accu packs (each 5kWh) and a highly efficient power management system. Propulsion and steering is realized with two brushless DC motors (Motenergy, ME0201013501, 2.4 kW) steered by a Curtis controller and a Controllino mini PLC module. Communication between user, sensors, the moving beam and the steering and propulsion system is done by an integrated shuttle pc (Shuttle, DH170). Thanks to this fully equipped and motorized hypercart the early detection and monitoring of potato diseases and other crop characteristics will take a rolling start!
Ruben Van De Vijver