Man sits on top of robotic vehicle.

Precision Agriculture Team Develops Multifunctional Robotic Platform

Authored on

What do you get when you combine 20 undergraduate students, three years of weekly meetings and a vision to create the future of precision agriculture?

You get the multifunctional robotic vehicle system in precision agriculture, says Xin (Rex) Sun, NDSU Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABEN) assistant professor.

In 2019, Sun had a goal to build a robotic vehicle that had multiple precision agriculture capabilities, but he knew he could not build it alone. After reaching out NDSU ABEN senior design instructors Tom Bon and Brian Gregor about how students in the senior design course could help, 20 students have now brought their ideas and enthusiasm to the project over the last three years.

“The robotic platform’s first stage of use is to collect various formats of weed imagery sensor data, and then eventually use Artificial Intelligence and robotic technologies to perform site-specific weed management functions with a smart sprayer boom,” says Sun. “The vision for the vehicle also potentially includes automatic collecting of soil samples and a smart weather station. We hope this could be the prototype for similar robotic systems to help farmers scout crops, detect disease, spray weeds and reduce labor-intensive work.”

While Sun is excited about the future direction of the multifunction vehicle for precision agriculture use, he is just as excited about the opportunities it affords students for hands-on learning.

“If we can provide students with opportunities to use their strengths and ideas in a real-world setting, they’ll be better prepared to help direct the future of agriculture technology on their own farms or in their careers,” adds Sun.

The robotic platform research is funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture-ARS project.


Xin (Rex) Sun, 701-231-5756,