Giovanni Muscato is Full Professor of Robotics at University of Catania, Italy. His current research interest includes service robotics, agricultural robotics and environmental robotics. He was the coordinator of the EC project Robovolc and is the local coordinator of several national and European projects in robotics. He is the author of more than 250 papers in scientific journals and conference proceedings and three books in the fields of control and robotics. Prof. Muscato is the Co-chair of the IEEE Service Robotics Technical Committee and is with the Board of Trustees of the Climbing and Walking Robots (CLAWAR) Association.
One of the main purposes of the introduction of robotics in agriculture is to increase safety for the operators involved in dangerous tasks. Spraying agricultural chemicals in vineyards and within greenhouses can be harmful to the operators due to high temperatures, high humidity and presence of dangerous substances. In a cooperation between the Robotics group of DIEEI and the Agricultural Engineering group of DIGESA at University of Catania, we designed and tested a new electrical vehicle to perform autonomous spraying. The system can be also equipped for other agricultural operations as transportations, pruning, etc. This vehicle can increase safety level for operators and quality of the chemicals distribution, allowing lower environmental pollution and better greenhouse product quality. In this talk an overview of the agricultural robotics research in our University will be firstly presented. Then several localization and navigation methods specifically developed and tested for autonomous machines in greenhouses and vineyards will be described. Different sensors for localization have been tested as RTK-DGPS, GBAS-DGPS, ultrasound sensors, vision systems, 2D Laser scanners and inertial measurement units. The results obtained in laboratory and during field trials in greenhouses and vineyards will be illustrated and commented.