In recent years, much of the discussion and debate surrounding ag robotics centers on the idea of helping farmers do more with less. The growing constraints on farmers’ time, money and resources have contributed to the increase in machines dedicated to tackling the sector’s most monotonous, repetitive tasks.
Back in 2000, however, developing an autonomous implement carrier that could do everything from seeding and weeding to rotovating and spraying was something of a pipe dream. The idea that would become the multifaceted innovation known as ROBOTTI got its start in research projects and as a means of supporting companies that already had solutions in the works.
That all changed when AGROINTELLI was founded in 2015. Three years later, the company focused primarily on bringing ROBOTTI to fruition, and in 2020, an influx of capital to the tune of 14 million euros ensured the machine would go to market. Today, ROBOTTI is commercially viable and ready for the farm.
“The main strength of ROBOTTI is that it’s so flexible,” says Jakob Bebe, Chief Commercial Officer at AGROINTELLI. “What we see now is that the main interest for the robot is coming from high-value crops, primarily vegetables. So, depending on which kind of vegetables the customer grows, they use different kind of implements. With ROBOTTI, we supply the robot platform, and the end customer will attach the various implements that transform the machine into a full system. This is diversity is what makes the robot really strong.”
ROBOTTI is available in two versions with the option to modify the width to better meet its customers’ unique needs. Both models have a standard three-point hitch, weigh less than half of a similarly advanced tractor, work autonomously and can be supervised by a phone or computer without depending on a human driver.
ROBOTTI 150D is designed for harder field work where extra power is required. This is the machine that tackles tasks like seeding, weeding, spraying, harrowing, grass cutting, rotovating and power harrowing. It runs on two Kubota diesel engines—one for power take-off (PTO) and hydraulics, and the other for propulsion.
ROBOTTI LR (LongRange) is for lighter work, including seeding, weeding, harrowing and spraying. It is equipped with one 72 horsepower Kubota diesel engine for propulsion and a 300 Liter fuel tank that enables up to 60 hours of work before it needs to be refueled.
Bebe says the decision to create a diesel-powered robot was intentional and strategic.
“We have actually chosen a platform that is similar to what the farmers already know,” he says. “A robot on a farm is already strange enough for many farmers, so we have tried to make ROBOTTI with technology that is familiar. When they open the hood, they will see a Kubota engine—something they already know how to service and how to handle. So, from that perspective, the robot is pretty normal to what the farmer is used to.”
Kubota isn’t the only partner AGROINTELLI is working with. Bebe estimates that 95 percent of the robots will be sold through partners with already established agricultural networks to ensure the technology gets to the right customers. Additional service partners will offer support in the event that ROBOTTI needs repairs or updates.
Perhaps most importantly, AGROINTELLI is working closely with implement manufacturers to guarantee that a wide range of tools pair easily with ROBOTTI. This way, farmers reap the benefits of an entire system that is particularly well-suited to their specific crops. AGROINTELLI will continue to add new implement partners in the next several years, but in the meantime, end customers are ready for ROBOTTI.
“We live in a time where most farmers know that this technology is coming, and we are being contacted all the time by potential customers,” Bebe says. “It's nice to know that a lot of the farmers anticipate that this technology will continue to be there in the future. Personally, I think that in 20 years, one person will say to another, ‘You know, my dad used to drive a tractor.’ Driving a tractor will be a special case in 20 years.”