The Mobile Vertical Farm (or Go-Vertical Farm) for Automation of Vertical Farming Operations

Project number: 
UA Department of Biosystems Engineering
Academic year: 
The human population is estimated to reach 10 billion by the year 2050. The challenge is finding a way to sustainably feed a global population that large. Controlled environment agriculture practices such as greenhouse growing, hydroponics and vertical farming offer solutions to generate more produce with a smaller footprint. However, indoor vertical farms have a high labor cost, which has driven an interest in automation. The Life Grow Bot (LGBot) is an autonomous industrial robot with a hydroponic growing tower incorporated on top of it. The LGBot maintains all functions for growing leafy greens, including transportation around the warehouse from planting until harvest. The LGBot presents a possible method of growing leafy vegetables as part of an autonomous production system.

The LGBot consists of a Raspberry Pi controlled autonomous robot that uses ultrasonic and lidar, or Light Detection and Ranging, sensors to navigate through an indoor environment. The LGBot is designed to detect and avoid obstacles in addition to docking with its complementary Growth Recharge Station. The top part of the LGBot is a three-tiered hydroponic vertical farm. When the LGBot is docked to the Growth Recharge Station, a recirculating nutrient solution and optimized supplemental lighting provide the growing environment for a variety of leafy vegetables. The LGBot communicates with a graphical user interface, which in addition to displaying the location of the unit in the indoor environment, can communicate simple commands to the LGBot. LGBot reduces the cost of growing leafy greens by eliminating the need for any human interface for the complete growing cycle.

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