Burro agricultural robots are easy to use

Burros use computer vision, high precision GPS, and AI to follow people and navigate autonomously from A to B while carrying various payloads. | Credit: Mobile Robot Guide

The Mobile Robot Guide had the opportunity to see a demo of a Burro at the 2022 World Ag Expo in Tulare, CA. We talked to Burro co-founder and CEO Charlie Anderson about the solution and he provided a demo of the capabilities of a Burro and walked us through a demo of the onboard user interface (UI).

Burro is an autonomous mobile robot (AMR) designed to work collaboratively with farm hands in the field or in plant nurseries.

Figure 1 – A Burro chassis is completely self contained, including controls and battery. | Credit: Mobile Robot Guide

Anderson described that the current generation of the Burro is ruggedized to survive all day in the extreme operating conditions of an agricultural farm field. Burros are designed to follow farm workers around the property. Anderson says that the two most popular applications for Burro are harvesting and in plant nurseries.

Burros can be easily trained to drive to specific (recorded) locations, to follow a specific path, or to immediately follow a worker around the property.

Burros can carry cargo weight up to 226 kg (500 lbs). They can also operate up to 12 hours on a single charge. As seen in Figure 1 above, batteries can be swapped in the field, enabling a burro to quickly return to work on a fresh battery.

In the following video, Anderson demos the features of Burro and walks us through the user interface.

One thing to note from the video, the user interface is currently only available in Spanish, however Anderson says that Spanish is understood by all of the (current) users in the field including farm hands and supervisors. This is one ease of use feature that makes the solution immediately accessible and simple to train in the field.

Alternative configurations

At the 2022 World Ag Expo, the team at the Burro booth were also showing alternative configurations of the AMR. None of these configurations are for sale yet, however, they illustrate a number of other possible implementations of the basic Burro chassis. The company is open to exploring any new applications for this AMR form factor.

Mowing demo

A Burro can be equipped with a mower, and trained to run the mow weeds and grass in the area between between rows of crops.

This demo shows a Burro equipped with a front mounted mower. | Credit: Mobile Robot Guide

Spraying demo

A Burro can be equipped with a small sprayer unit to perform pest control tasks. This demo appeared to be an early prototype, and the company is looking to develop this solution with partner companies.

This demo shows a Burro equipped with a dual sided sprayer. | Credit: Mobile Robot Guide

Grape picking demo

In the booth was a demonstration of a collaborative robot (cobot) mounted on top of a Burro, and equipped with vision guidance for the cobot arm to pick ripe grapes off the vine. This was another prototype, but it demonstrates the potential for the platform to be used in any number of future agricultural applications.

The battery includes enough power to run the cobot arm, although this will reduce the total runtime of the solution in the field.

This demo shows a Burro with a Cobot arm mounted and using vision to pick grapes. | Credit: Mobile Robot Guide

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Written by

Mike Oitzman

Mike Oitzman is Senior Editor of WTWH's Robotics Group, cohost of The Robot Report Podcast, and founder of the Mobile Robot Guide. Oitzman is a robotics industry veteran with 25-plus years of experience at various high-tech companies in the roles of marketing, sales and product management. He can be reached at moitzman@wtwhmedia.com.