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ECE students create robot to help farmers for ENGINE program

June 5, 2019

Pollen 5

Pollen 5, the unmanned vehicle taking images of crops. Photo credit: Pollen Systems

Four undergraduate students in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering created a semi-autonomous ground vehicle to evaluate the volume and health of thousands of acres of crops, as part of the department’s entrepreneurial capstone program, ENGINE.

Justin Ngo, Yibo Cao, Maggie Fagan and Jonathan Ananda Nusantara designed, built and tested this unmanned vehicle for Pollen Systems, a Bellevue, Washington corporation focused on farming solutions. ECE teaching assistant Yana Sosnovskaya and faculty advisor Howard Chizeck helped guide them through the venture.

The department’s ENGINE program was created to enable students to work in teams on industry sponsored projects. Pollen Systems pitched a project to ECE students to help them develop a robotic scouting vehicle that would drive down rows of crops, take pictures and analyze the plants so farmers would be more informed about the health and volume of their plants.

The students created Pollen 5, which can do exactly that. While Pollen Systems has already created drones and robotic scouting vehicles to help farmers, the ground images taken by Pollen 5 give a more detailed view of the crops than from above, and can be combined with aerial imagery for a comprehensive assessment of crop health and soil moisture.

Details of the success of their project were published in GeekWire on June 3.