Assignments to perform during the Field Robot Event

The international Field Robot Event is an annual contest on, in 2022 both a virtual and real, agricultural field, where students and their supervisors compete within several tasks in autonomous navigation and other operations. The FRE has been founded by the Wageningen University in 2003 in order to motivate students to develop autonomous field robots. Now we are looking forward to the 19th event and hope to enjoy creative and functional solutions. The agricultural tasks will be challenging for the robots and their students, but behind engineering skills the organisation wants to promote meeting international colleagues ‐ and of course having fun during the contest!

This year the competition will be conducted on a real maize field and also virtually in a simulation of ROS Gazebo. ROS Gazebo is an open-source 3D robotics simulator. Gazebo supports codes for sensor simulation and actuator control. It provides realistic rendering of environments including high-quality lighting, shadows, and textures. It can model sensors that “see” the simulated environment, such as laser range finders, cameras (including wide-angle), Kinect style sensors, etc.

Task 1 – navigation

For this task, the robots are navigating autonomously through a maize field. Within three minutes, the robot has to navigate through curved (!) rows. The aim is to cover as much distance as possible. On the headland, the robot has to turn and return in the adjacent row and according to a given pattern. This task is all about accuracy, smoothness and speed of the navigation operation between the rows. Each robot has only one attempt.
The first rows are without intra-row gaps to make it easy for the robots to start. Then a part follows intra-row gaps even on both sides. The last part will be to follow a particular given turning and row pattern. The code for a path pattern, for example, may be given as: S-1L-1R-1L-1R-1L-1R-3L-2L-2R-1R-5L-F. The code of the path pattern through the maize field is done as follows: S means START, L means LEFT hand turn, R means RIGHT hand turn and F means FINISH. The number before the L or R represents the row that has to be entered after the turn. Therefore, 2L means: Enter the second row after a left-hand turn, 3R means: Enter the third row after a right hand turn.

Random stones and pebbles are placed along the path to represent a realistic field scenario. In other words, typical outdoor abilities as defined by machine ground clearance and to climb over small obstacles are required. There will be no gaps in row entries as well as at the end of the rows. The ends of the rows may not be in the same line. The headland will perhaps be indicated by a fence or ditch or similar.

Task 2 – sensing and mapping

The robots shall detect objects as weeds and beer cans (example for waste) and map or geo-reference them. Objects detected in the virtual field should be signalled by a ROS message in the real field by an acoustic signal. The coordinate system shall be locally in horizontal field dimensions. The reference point will be pillars with a QR code. This task is conducted in an environment similar to task 1 and the robot also has one attempt and 3 minutes to complete the task. Nevertheless, good row navigation is required. There will be nine (9) objects in total distributed across the virtual field.

The robot has to generate a file (*.csv) with classified objects and their coordinates relative to the given reference point. Each object should be reported on one line in the file including the coordinates x and y in horizontal plane in meters with 3 decimal points.
Extra points can be gained by removing the cans and placing them outside the crop aea on the headland. If the robot is only able to push the cans to the headland, but without a clear act of picking up

Objects are realistic weeds and cans e.g. of beer with different brands and colours. The objects will be placed randomly across the field. So they can be in between and in the rows. No objects are located on the headlands.

Task 3 – freestyle

Teams are invited to let their real robot perform a freestyle operation at their home institution or in the virtual environments or on the events venue. The explanation as well as the performance shall be transmitted online via internet to the jury and the spectators. The team has to explain the idea and the machine. Comments during the robot’s performance are also welcome.

Creativity and fun are required for this task as well as an application-oriented performance. The freestyle task should be related to an agricultural application. Teams will have a time limit of five minutes for the presentation including the robot’s performance.