Saga Robotics has created Thorvald, a platform for autonomous modular robots. Thorvald can be configured to perform tasks in most agricultural environments, making farms more efficient.
Despite being the world’s largest industry, agriculture has not seen the same transformational technological changes as other industries. Even in developed economies, farming is still mostly traditional, with labour-intensive practices that are inefficient and often damaging to the environment.
Autonomous robots could greatly increase sustainability and profitability in agriculture.
The Thorvald platform of robots can be configured to perform a wide variety of tasks on a farm and operate under diverse conditions, including open fields, orchards, greenhouses and tunnels.
Thorvald can be used for anything from picking fruits and vegetables, cutting grass for forage, spraying and in-field transportation to performing UV treatment, phenotyping, and collecting and analysing data for crop predictions.
Thorvald is autonomous, meaning it operates entirely on its own.
The Thorvald platform can both help to make existing tasks more efficient and to perform tasks that have not been possible to do using only human labour.
Thorvald can, for instance, prevent mildew in berries, fruits or grapes by performing UV treatment at night. Without such treatment, mildew reduces yields by 10 to 20 per cent. Thorvald, unlike humans, does not suffer adverse effects from working night hours or from long-term exposure to UV light. The robot is cost-efficient as well, covering a large area with a single lamp.
Thorvald can also be mounted with autonomous precision sprayers, which target weeds only and not plants. This reduces the use of herbicides and runoff into waterways, resulting in healthier and better food.
Moreover, Thorvald can replace heavy machinery which compacts soil and reduces crop yields by 9 to 12 per cent. Being lightweight, the robot does not damage soil the same way. Thorvald even collects data 24/7, helping farmers to analyse and optimise production.
With its vast number of repetitive tasks in controlled environments, agriculture is extremely well suited for autonomous robotic solutions.
Goldman Sachs estimates a USD 240 billion market for agritech, with the potential for precision farming to boost crop yields by 70 per cent by 2050.
Saga Robotics won the award for Best FoodTech/AgriTech Startup in Norway at the 2018 Nordic Startup Awards.
2. Zero hunger
Autonomous robots can help to improve food security by producing food more efficiently.
9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
Autonomous robots can help to improve resource-use efficiency and sustainability in agriculture.
12. Responsible consumption and production
Autonomous robots can help to reduce pesticide use and food losses in agriculture.