The use of remote sensing to map the distribution of plant diseases has evolved considerably over the last three decades and can be performed at different scales, depending on the area to be monitored, as well as the spatial and spectral resolution required. This work describes the development of a small low-cost field robot (Remotely Operated Vehicle for Infection Monitoring in orchards, XF-ROVIM), which is intended to be a flexible solution for early detection of Xylella fastidiosa
) in olive groves at plant to leaf level. The robot is remotely driven and fitted with different sensing equipment to capture thermal, spectral and structural information about the plants. Taking into account the height of the olive trees inspected, the design includes a platform that can raise the cameras to adapt the height of the sensors to a maximum of 200 cm. The robot was tested in an olive grove (4 ha) potentially infected by X. fastidiosa
in the region of Apulia, southern Italy. The tests were focused on investigating the reliability of the mechanical and electronic solutions developed as well as the capability of the sensors to obtain accurate data. The four sides of all trees in the crop were inspected by travelling along the rows in both directions, showing that it could be easily adaptable to other crops. XF-ROVIM was capable of inspecting the whole field continuously, capturing geolocated spectral information and the structure of the trees for later comparison with the in situ observations.
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