A noble thought to help coconut farmers across the world has driven four young mechanical engineeringstudents of PES Institute ofTechnology to invent a tree climbing robot.
In a one of a kind innovation , as part of their final year project, over the course of two and a half months, these students – Ravi Teja RV, Ashik Gowda, Aviral Kumar and Mohan BK designed and developed the robot which runs on the principles of pneumatics; making use of gas or pressurized air and no form of electric power.
“We had topics like pneumatics and hydraulics to choose from for our project work so we decided to make the robot on the principles of pneumatics. We visited various farms across Karnataka and surveyed coconut trees and their likes as well. We learned that the maximum diameter of the bark of a coconut tree is 350 millimeter. So our robot can grip a tree bark of that width and even lesser than that,” explained Ravi.
Weighing about 6.2 kg, the robot can be operated from the ground through a remote control that goes on or off. It has a speed of 1 meter per 50 seconds while climbing up a tree and 1 meter per 39 seconds while coming down.
Working according to the mechanism of a human tree climber who hugs the tree while climbing it to avoid slippage, the robot instead of being fitted with wheels that could facilitate its movement, instead has grippers that would engulf the tree while climbing up or down.
“Initially when the boys came up with the project idea, they wanted to build the robot that could climb up the tree and just stay put there and cut the coconuts. Their intention was to provide an alternative to the usual tree climbers who are not only rare to find these days but many of them are also old. But with further development of the project, they realized that the robot could be driven up and down along with various attachments to carry out different purposes other than just cutting coconuts from the tree,” said Benjamin Rohit, faculty member and project guide for the tree climbing robot.
By fitting attachments to the robot, the machine can carry anything that weighs 1 kg like pesticide spray cans, cutters to cut the coconuts from the trees and surveillance cameras that can monitor arboreal environment (of those living in the tree) as well.
“It took us some trials and errors while making the robot,” said Ravi. “We had two designs in mind but the first one failed at the research stage itself and we had to redo the mechanisms for the second design again which worked well for the project.”