The current level of innovation in vision systems translates into agriculture in various ways, such as field monitoring, inspection and packaging. Feature-rich and flexible camera technology now offers greater resolution, throughput efficiency, image sensitivity, and a variety of interfacing for connectivity options. For agricultural automation, this powerful new technology proves that sometimes you can count your chickens before they hatch, ensuring both safety compliance and quality of our common food supply.
In the Field
New vision technologies make it easier to survey and control issues in agricultural fields. For example, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are used to precisely target spray to specific GPS coordinates rather than wasting resources on broader areas. These autonomous vehicles thus prevent and ease resolution of problems with insects and disease.
Vision systems also have applications beyond what we can see with the naked eye. In particular, near-infrared technology makes it possible to identify bruises below the skin before they form on produce. Accordingly, it’s possible to identify pieces with a shorter lifespan and so discard them before leaving the farm.
Automated systems are especially useful in this later stage. For example, they help to eliminate rotting or contaminated produce before being packaged and shipped. Here, Infrared (IR) technology makes it possible to carefully examine and discover packaging issues – ensuring that seals are intact and secure ahead of time.
The following articles in the Agricultural Automation series will profile several cameras that Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) and System Integrators alike can use to develop flexible vision systems and solutions for agricultural applications.
First in the series is the Sony XC-ST50 area scan camera.