28 Oct 2016



The Agri-rover project uses space technology to help farmers in China and the UK.


​​​Agri-rover robot and project team ready for the field trials​.


​​STFC RAL Space is working closely with other project members from the UK and China to develop an autonomous robot that can conduct chemical soil tests in a timely and cost effective way. The project is led by the University of Strathclyde and funded by the UK Space Agency’s International Partnerships Space Programme.  Agri-rover’s aim is to provide farmers with a greater understanding of soil quality. 

The autonomous Agri-rover robot has a remotely controlled arm to collect samples and crops, and a Laser Induced Breakdown Spectrometer that detects soil composition. A camera installed on the robot is used to create a 3D map of the farm land whilst GPS provides visual markers to improve the maps accuracy.

​In August 2016, two days of field tests were conducted to assess the robot’s navigation software and on-board instrumentation. The first morning of testing took place on a farm that had been harvested but before crops had been sown as this is when farmers usually measure soil quality. Whilst the robot could easily travel over the field, a lack of objects made it difficult to navigate and to pinpoint the location of samples. On the afternoon, researchers monitored the robot’s status as it travelled down a single tyre track and navigated a harvested field. The second day of testing took place on a raspberry plantation and trialled the robotic arms ability to collect samples, weeds, and fruits.

Following the success of these initial tests, the Agri-rover project will conduct further field tests in the UK and China.

For more information please contact: RAL Space Enquiries