Prospero is the working prototype of an Autonomous Micro Planter (AMP) that uses a combination of swarm and game theory to make planting decisions plant by plant. The robot is designed to operate as a swarm and is the first of four developmental steps. The other three steps involve autonomous robots that tend the crops, harvest them, and finally one robot that can plant, tend, and harvest--autonomously transitioning from one phase to another.
The Prospero master controller is a Propeller chip mounted on a Propeller Protoboard that simultaneously manages the main program, sensors, and controls the two Propeller Servo Controllers. The Propeller Servo Controllers independently manage and maintain the 20+ servos in Prospero.
All of the programming is completely original, which allows it to walk autonomously in any direction without turning its body. It avoids obstacles using the rotating, dual ultrasonic Ping))) sensors mounted on the top of the robot.
An under body sensor array allows the robot to know if a seed has been planted in the area at the optimal spacing and depth. If no seed is detected, Prospero can then dig a hole, place a seed, cover it with soil, and apply any pre-emergence fertilizers and herbicides along with the marking agent.
Prospero can then tell other robots (via IR) in the immediate proximity that it needs help planting in that area or that this area has been planted and to move on (currently represented with a green and red LED ). The more seeds it plants, the more the "green" LED lights up, the more it draws other robots nearby (+2). The more it detects planted seeds, the more it repulses other robots with the "red" LED (-1).
More information at: http://www.dorhoutrd.com/prospero_robot_farmer