SwarmFarm Robotics Dock and Refill Station

Burge, Matthew (2020) SwarmFarm Robotics Dock and Refill Station. [USQ Project]

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Abstract

The SwarmBot 5 platform developed and operated by SwarmFarm Robotics, has multiple autonomous applications, spot spraying being the most common. Autonomous spot spraying is primarily employed to reduce operating costs, and negative impacts on soil and the environment. Typically even multiple autonomous passes result in reduced chemical usage, human interactions, and highly effective weed elimination, at less cost than a single blanket spray.

Currently, the platform is refilled via manual handling of hoses/drums/nozzles etc. This process results in downtime where the platform is waiting for human interaction, and risks exposing personnel and the environment to hazards such as toxic chemicals. In an effort to properly meet the key intentions of the platform by reducing downtime, increasing operational efficiencies and further eliminating personnel interactions, the current limitations of the refuelling/refilling processes have necessitated the development of an autonomous solution. Several solutions exist for both automated fluid transfer and quick/simple manual connections, however there are no desirable or cost-effective solutions for the intended application. William Holcombe, a SwarmFarm employee, previously conducted his dissertation on this topic, with promising yet unsuccessful results.

This project aims to develop a systematic solution that is capable of completely autonomously coupling with the SwarmBot 5 platform in order to refill with chemical solutions. A broad literature review encompassed all aspects of current processes and existing solutions, after which client and supervisor discussions yielded several preliminary coupling concepts. These concepts were analysed against set criteria, before finalist couplings were physically experimented with and/or modelled. Evaluation against key design criteria resulted in a coupling upon which a holistic autonomous refilling system was conceptually designed.

A coupler for connecting to the SwarmBot 5 platform, was successfully prototyped and its performance evaliated. The design satisfied design parameters, and the complete system shows promise to meet client expectations of improved efficiencies, independencies and safety.

Further experimentations will be conducted on board the SwarmBot 5 platform, with refinements to the design and manufacturing of the coupling system. Development of the complete system, and implementation into the software will also be necessary. The coupling developed is capable of reliably coupling with the platform, and a complete system is likely to greatly increase the efficiency of operations.


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Item Type: USQ Project
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)(Mechanical)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (1 Jul 2013 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (1 Jul 2013 -)
Supervisors: Lobsey, Craig
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2021 23:12
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2021 23:12
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/43079

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