A team from Goa won first place for the design of an automatic drone-based coconut climbing machine in the national competition organised by ICAR, New Delhi.
NT KURIOCITY details
Years of joint efforts by Goa University and ICAR-CCARI, Old Goa have culminated in the development of a novel device, ‘Fly-Cocobot’ for doing away with manual harvesting of coconuts at a reasonable cost.
Indian Council of Agricultural Research under the umbrella of National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) and Agricultural Engineering Division of ICAR, launched ‘KRITAGYA’ a national Agtech Hakhathon in the year 2020 for promoting farm mechanisation. A total of 784 teams comprising students, faculties, scientists and innovative entrepreneurs, across the country registered for this national competition to showcase their innovative ideas as technology solutions, especially for enhancing ‘women friendly’ farm mechanisation.
Cutting across the two tier screening, first at zonal level among 89 teams and then at the national level among 25 teams, Fly-Cocobot, a technology solution presented by team comprising of team leader professor Rajendra S Gad; principal scientist (Horticulture), ICAR-CCARI, Old Goa, Adavi Rao Desai; and students Abhiraj Pednekar and Arman Shaikh, won first place for its novelty, unique innovative concept and cost effective technical and practical feasibility solutions, in the national level virtual event held on May 31. The Fly Cocobot team received the award certificate and prize money of `5 lakhs, at the hands of Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, Narendra Singh Tomar in the presence of ministers of state for agriculture and farmers welfare, Parshottam Rupala and Kailash Choudhary; secretary, DARE and director general, ICAR, T Mohapatra; deputy director general (Education) R C Agrawal; and other dignitaries. Further, the team will have the opportunity to fabricate the commercial prototype at ICAR-CIAE, Bhopal for transfer of technology for the potential entrepreneurs.
The pragmatic uniqueness of the Fly Cocobot lies in its suitability for use in mixed cropping plantations of coconut and black pepper thereby leading to higher returns from coconut with pepper cropping system. ‘Padelis’ generally avoid harvesting nuts in coconut-black pepper system because of the difficulty in climbing these coconut palms. Similarly, manned and unmanned devices, presently being used for harvesting coconut, are not compatible with the dual cropping system, curved and slippery trunk, for which Fly Cocobot is the apt solution. Thus, technically, this novel device is a drone-based remotely controlled unmanned gender friendly coconut harvesting machine for safe harvesting of coconuts. The prototype design could be even employed for harvesting in other palms like areca nut, palmyra palm, oil palm and date palm as well, besides its probable modification for other farm operations like spraying, pruning, etc. The device flies to the top of the palm, gets attached to the trunk with grabbing arms, and a cutting arm is then deployed for cutting the desired bunch decided through video displayed on screen of the remote module. All this can be done from a safe distance without risking any human life. The machine is conceptualised to have operational efficiency of 15 palms/ hour. Goa University and CCARI have jointly filed the application for seeking patent for the novel design of the machine for protecting IPRs. With this technological solution, palm growers will certainly have a sigh of relief in the days ahead.