Local Team Wins Agbot Challenge

LATTA—In  Latta, a new type of agricultural implement rolled out of a shop destined for Rockville, Indiana.  
In Indiana, the implement competed in an international competition: the first ever Agbot Challenge.  
The Agbot Challenge pitted self-guided planters built by different teams against each other in competition.  
Among the competitors teams from Purdue, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, Ohio State, University of Regina, Grit robotics (one of the teams in the DARPA challenge), Colorado Mesa University, Muchowski Farms, and the only team operating in the deep South of the United States, Pee Dee Precision.   
The challenge was to build an advanced planter given a stringent set of requirements.  To meet these requirements the Pee Dee team built, in 4 months, a ground drone dubbed the “Cricket.” The Cricket has an 18hp diesel engine, hydraulic controls, two planter units capable of switching seed varieties in the middle of a row, two front-to-back seed tanks with a thirty gallon capacity, a controller similar to the one on board NASA’s Global Hawk which is an aerial drone capable of flying over hurricanes, and drop tires capable of converting
The Cricket to a trailer for shuttling the planter in and out of the field.  The Cricket is estimated to weigh in at 3,500 pounds, have a planting speed of 5 mph, a taxi speed of 10 mph, and a transport speed of 80 mph.  The Cricket finished a strong third place in the competition.  Post competition plans are to refit The Cricket to improve both steering and control software for demonstration purposes.  
The team would like to thank Utility Technical Services for housing the drone and technical expertise in constructing the drone.  The team would like to thank Precision Planting and Dillon Tractor and Implement Co. for the donation of parts. They would also like to thank Sparrow and Kennedy tractor for the apparel.
This design and ones like it have the ability to revolutionize farming.   Jerry Martin alternate

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