Tarzan the swinging robot could be the future of farming

The energy-efficient sloth-inspired robot will swing over crops.

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Mariella Moon
April 12th, 2017
In this article: gear, georgiatech, robots, tarzan
Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech

Some farmers already use drones to monitor their crops, but a team of researchers from Georgia Tech have created a far more interesting alternative. Instead of designing yet another drone, they created a robot inspired by Kristen Bell's favorite animal: the sloth. However, they named it "Tarzan" after the most recognizable character who moves by swinging from vine to vine. You see, their machine was designed to move like the fictional jungle dweller. Tarzan will be able to swing over crops using its 3D-printed claws and parallel guy-wires stretched over fields. It will then take measurements and pictures of each plant with its built-in camera while suspended.

Team leader and Georgia Institute of Technology professor Jonathan Rogers said they're trying to design Tarzan to become very energy efficient, just like real sloths. The researchers are doing that to be able to create solar-powered versions one day, so farms can have a few of these machines always swinging around when they're needed. There won't be any need to recharge or refuel them anymore.

While it may take some time to achieve that goal, the researchers plan to start testing the robot soon. This summer, it's going to a soybean field in Athens, Georgia to take photos for another team of scientists studying different varieties of the plant.

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