It was not on display, but the Horsch Roboter won the multipurpose category for Best Field Robot Concept 2021 at the recently-held World FIRA (International Forum on Agricultural Robotics) event. The specialised category prize went to the Bale Hawk autonomous round bale collector from North American manufacturer Vermeer, and a fruit picking robot called Eve from French firm Ripe Robotics won the harvesting award.
Some of the autonomous machines on display at the Diagora Congress Centre near the French city of Toulouse have already been seen at European farm shows. However, what makes the three-day World FIRA event unique is that the focus is 100% on robotic machines.
Navigating using sensors, the Deutz-powered Bale Hawk can autonomously load three bales at a time and deliver and unload them at a predetermined location. Successfully tested with bales weighing up to 600kg, the empty weight of the vehicle is less than 3.0t.
The show has grown quickly since the first one in 2016. This was attended by five robot manufacturers, and 200 physical visitors (plus 50 online attendees) from 10 countries. The 70 exhibitors at the sixth annual edition this year showed a record 36 autonomous machines (17 online). The 1,500 participants (physical and online) came from 80+ countries.
Something else that makes the French event interesting is that an increasing number of companies now use it to launch new machines. Autonomous highlights for arable and vegetable farms included the first official outing of the Orio drilling and mechanical hoeing robot from French company Naïo Technologies, and Danish manufacturer Agrointelli unveiled its Robotti LR (Long Range). The larger 330-litre diesel tank is claimed to allow it to operate for up to 60 hours.
Launched at the show, the Orio drilling and mechanical hoeing robot is made by French company Naïo Technologies. Picture: FIRA/Aude Lemarchand
Other interesting robots included the Elatec E-Trac electric tool carrier, the Titan FT-35 from Farmwise (virtual presence) and the Swarmfarm Swarmbot, which can work with both a sprayer and a mower. The machine was not in Toulouse, but Lely also participated in the event with its Exos zero grazing robot.
The next World FIRA event is planned for 6-8 December 2022. Next year will also see the first edition of FIRA USA 2022. This will take place from 18-20 October at a venue in California.