Aug. 10, 2022

NDSU robotics team excels in competition


The NDSU Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department Robotics Team earned second place from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers Robotics Student Design Competition.

This is only the second time the team has participated in the competition, which is a student design event during the ASABE annual international meeting, held this year in Houston, July 17-20.

The team captain is Billy Ram, and other team members are Arjun Upadhyay, Jithin Mathew, Sunil GC, Nitin Rai and Nusrat Jahan. The advisor was Yu Zhang and co-advisor is Cengiz Koparan.

Each year, the competition committee releases an agricultural-related topic that requires the team to design a robot to finish projects, such as planting, fertilizing, weeding or harvesting.

This year, the teams designed an autonomous robot to harvest cotton on a competition board. The robot harvested three rows, with each row containing 11 plants with varied height from 7 to 10 inches. The robot harvested the fully open cotton balls. The faster the robot operated and the more cotton balls harvested, the better the team score.

“Sometimes, I found many students did not have an accurate idea about what precision agriculture technology does in reality. This is a great event for students to get to know precision agricultural technologies and get the hands-on experience on the agricultural robot design. Via this competition, the students learned how to design a robot, how to troubleshoot, and how different sensors cooperate together to make the robot behave as we designed,” Zhang said.

“It was a very valuable learning experience. The best part of the whole competition was to see the robotic arm move and reach the cotton locations and harvest them. My task was to design the robot using CAD, which motivated me to appreciate and look out for the tiny details. Being in this team also helped me learn a lot about different sensors, like Lidar, limit switches, ultrasonic and IMUs. It was an honor to lead the departmental team to win the second prize,” said Ram, who is a doctoral student in the department.

The robotics team started in 2021, with Doosan Bobcat, Red River Valley ASABE, KWS Seeds, and ABEN sponsoring the team’s start, and continuing support this year.

“We are so excited and proud of our students,” Zhang said. “We couldn’t compete without the support of the sponsors.”

Research specialist Jana Daeuber helped with the 3D printings and Xin (Rex) Sun’s precision ag lab sponsored the robot parts and tools.

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