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Agricultural robot and INESC TEC technology acknowledged beyond borders

“We have some of the best robots in the world” is not an advertising; it’s an international recognition granted to INESC TEC. The institution participated in FIRA – World Agricultural Robotics Forum, the main international event for agricultural robotics and autonomous solutions and reached second place in the “Best World FIRA Robot” category with the Modular-E robot. In addition, our researchers also won second place in the “Hackathon GDRA” competition, with a prize of €2.5K – after completing the challenge of developing algorithms to circumvent obstacles.

15th April 2024

The Modular-E, developed at INESC TEC Laboratory of Robotics and IoT for Smart Precision Agriculture and Forestry (TRIBE), is a cost-optimised autonomous modular robot that can carry several tools capable of performing different tasks, individually or simultaneously, with high precision.  Equipped with advanced navigation systems, it can plan safe trajectories, considering the robot’s centre of mass and the slope of the terrain; it can also locate itself even in the absence of a GNSS signal. Filipe Neves dos Santos, researcher at INESC TEC, explained what makes this robot so special.

“The Modular-E version with a variable rate fertiliser is a prototype of the PRR Vine&Wine agenda. It is equipped with several sensors, including cameras, LIDAR sensors and GNSS antennas, which allow us to benefit from the detailed perception of the environment. The data from these sensors is crucial to navigation systems, but also allows to support the decision support systems. In addition, and within the scope of the NOVATERRA project, we designed a tool compatible with Modular-E to support vegetation control activities, reducing costs and environmental impact”, stated the researcher.

World FIRA includes field demonstrations, an exhibition area, conferences and presentations of research and education projects. “This is the place where the most innovative agricultural robotics solutions are found, so this recognition is very important for INESC TEC. In addition, it is a space that allows us to interact with experts and discuss the challenges and needs of the market”, he added.

Both awards highlight not only the technology developed at INESC TEC, but also all the work that researchers have been carrying out, based on their creativity and efficiency in solving problems. This will also be an opportunity to increase the interest of potential investors, opening doors to commercial and financing opportunities.

In addition to the Modular-E robot, the WETA robot (SCORPION project) also featured in the event.