Robotic Rock-Clearing Vehicle Under Development

By Mike Ball / 12 Jun 2021

Robotic rock clearing vehicle

TerraClear has secured funding to further develop its robotic rock picking technology, which is designed to stop rocks in fields from disrupting precision agriculture operations and breaking machinery.

TerraClear’s Rock Picker picks an average of 400 rocks per hour and can pick up rocks of up to 300 pounds. Early versions of the solution have been deployed that both map and clear fields of rocks. It currently works on a compact track loader or skid steer and will soon be compatible with front-end loaders on tractors. It takes less than five minutes to mount and works in any field condition. TerraClear plans to eventually develop a fully autonomous rock picker UGV (unmanned ground vehicle) that integrates AI and computer vision.

Brent Frei, founder and CEO of TerraClear, said: “This is something I’ve personally dealt with my entire life. There are more than 400 million arable acres worldwide that have been waiting for a cost-effective and productive solution to this problem. Repetitive tasks like this are optimal targets for automation, and the technologies we are bringing to the field dramatically reduce the labor and time needed to prep fields for planting.”

Matt McIlwain, Managing Director at Madrona Venture Group, commented: “The TerraClear team has incredible passion and expertise in both the customer base and the technology needed to address this huge problem for farmers. Rock picking fits into the category of dull, dangerous, and dirty. It’s a perfect application of robotics and AI and we are excited to back this team and mission.”

Evan Aardema, a farmer and customer in southern Idaho, said: “On a 150 acre field we went from it taking 4 days and 6 guys to pick the rock by hand, to 1 day with 3 guys with the Rock Picker. That’s an 8x efficiency gain in the labor, and now I’ve got 18 days of labor that I can spend on something more productive.”

Trevor Thompson, President of TerraClear, stated: “We’re working every day towards a fully autonomous solution for rock picking – and that is a multi-year project. Along the way, we’re building solutions that solve this problem better than anything out there.”

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact