from the where-is-the-jane-robot? dept.
When you've got a crop full of plants growing in a field, inspecting each and every one of them can be very monotonous work. That's why scientists are working on plant-inspecting robots, that perform the task autonomously. Most of those 'bots are wheeled, however, meaning that they could get stuck or fall over – plus they might get in the way of other machinery. With that in mind, scientists from Georgia Tech have created a prototype robot that swings over the plants like a monkey. It's called Tarzan.
The idea is that in fields where a Tarzan robot is being used, each row of plants will have a tightly-strung guy wire running overhead. Using its two "arms," the robot will swing itself along that wire, imaging the plants below with its built-in cameras as it does so. When it gets to the end of one row, it will just swing over to the wire running above the next row over, and start making its way back down it. That process will be repeated, until it covers the whole field.
It does sound like a better option than a wheeled robot--muck in the fields can get pretty deep.