Intra-row weeding is a time consuming and challenging task. Therefore, a rotary weeder implement for an autonomous electrical robot was developed. It can be used to remove the weeds of the intra-row area of orchards and vineyards. The hydraulic motor of the conventional tool was replaced by an electric motor and some mechanical parts were refabricated to reduce the overall weight. The side shift, the height and the tilt adjustment were performed by linear electric motors. For detecting the trunk positions, two different methods were evaluated: A conventional electromechanical sensor (feeler) and a sonar sensor. The robot performed autonomous row following based on two dimensional laser scanner data. The robot prototype was evaluated at a forward speed of 0.16 ms−1
and a working depth of 40 mm. The overall performance of the two different trunk detection methods was tested and evaluated for quality and power consumption. The results indicated that an automated intra-row weeding robot could be an alternative solution to actual machinery. The overall performance of the sonar was better than the adjusted feeler in the performed tests. The combination of autonomous navigation and weeding could increase the weeding quality and decrease power consumption in future.
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