TrimBot2020: A gardening robot for rose, hedge and topiary trimming

The School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh (Robotarium East) has been successful with a Horizon 2020 research proposal, called TrimBot2020. The project will research the underlying robotics and vision technologies and prototype the first outdoor garden trimming robot. The robot will navigate over varying terrain, approach rose bushes, hedges and boxwood topiary, to trim them to an ideal shape. The robot will be based on a modified commercial robot lawn mower, which will navigate using a user-defined garden map and 3D scene analysis, and then visually servo a novel electric plant cutter.

Achieving this will require a combination of robotics and 3D computer vision research and innovation activities. Original developments will be required for 3D sensing of semi-regular surfaces with physical texture (overgrown plant surfaces), coping with outdoor lighting variations, self-localising and navigating over real terrain and around obstacles, visual servoing to align the vehicle with potentially moving target plants, visual servoing to align leaf and branch cutters to a compliant surface, and innovative engineering to deliver all this on a small battery-powered consumer-grade vehicle. Edinburgh will lead the consortium (under the direction of Prof. Robert Fisher), with research partners Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg (DE), Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule Zuerich (CH), Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (NL), Robert Bosch GMBH (DE), Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek (NL), Universiteit van Amsterdam (NL), and Wageningen University (NL).

Useful links

Professor Bob Fisher