Rippa robot takes farms forward to the future

21 October 2015
Prototype robot promises to make farm management easier

The robotic labour foreseen by the film Back to the Future is becoming a reality with devices such as RIPPA.

The University of Sydney is marking 'back to the future' day by putting its latest agricultural farming device RIPPA™ through its paces on a beetroot field in Cowra.

Robotics specialists from the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) are conducting the on-farm trial of  ‘RIPPA™(Robot for Intelligent Perception and Precision Application) testing their new prototype robot for its speed and accuracy.

“Mounted to RIPPA™ is 21st century technology dubbed VIIPA™ (Variable Injection Intelligent Precision Applicator), which is capable of autonomously shooting weeds at high speed using a directed micro-dose of liquid. 

“The technology can be used to automatically apply the correct dose of fluid required anywhere on the farm at high speed," says systems engineering and operations specialist Mark Calleija, who constructed the robotic farming device.

“It will enable farmers to capitalise by minimising application input costs and improving information quality for better high-level decision making.

“This type of new technology will assist growers in taking their farms into the future.”

“These types of smaller more affordable robotic farming devices will give farmers a tool to help better manage their farms.”
Professor Salah Sukkarieh

The Back to the Future movie produced in 1989 saw its characters projected into the future, arriving in time on 21 October 2015, and suggested that much of our future work would be done by robots.

“Here at the ACFR we have been conducting research in autonomous, remote sensing and developing robotics and intelligent software for the environment and agriculture community for more than a decade,” says Professor Salah Sukkarieh Director of Research and Innovation at the centre.

“These types of smaller more affordable robotic farming devices will give farmers a tool to help better manage their farms.”

This project was jointly funded by AUSVEG and Horticultural Innovation Australian.

The Australian Productivity Commission’s July 2015 update report said predicted future growth in Australia’s agricultural sector “is likely to depend on the more productive use of land, water and other natural endowments through the application of the most up-to-date equipment and technologies against the background of changing productive potential.”


Outdoor test of RIPPA

Victoria Hollick

Media and Public Relations Adviser
  • Level 5 School of Information Technologies Building J12