A group of researchers from UC Riverside and UC Merced have received a grant for more than $1 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the National Science Foundation’s National Robotics Initiative to address these challenges. From UC Riverside are Assistant Professor Konstantinos Karydis and Professor Amit K. Roy-Chowdhury, both from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. UC Merced, which leads the effort, is represented by Stefano Carpin, professor of computer science; and Joshua Viers, professor of environmental engineering.
As part of the project, the group is developing a robotic pressure chamber that can autonomously sample leaves and immediately test them on site to provide the freshest data. The system will work to gather data even in large fields, and over a period of time, rather than just providing a snapshot.
Frequently updated data can help growers better plan irrigation schedules to conserve water, optimize the time and effort spent by crop specialists tasked with determining and analyzing lead water potential, and help decrease some of the costs in the food-production chain.