The concept of precision agriculture, which proposes farming management adapted to crop variability, has emerged in recent years. To effectively implement precision agriculture, data must be gathered from the field in an automated manner at minimal cost. In this study, a small autonomous field inspection vehicle was developed to minimise the impact of the scouting on the crop and soil compaction. The proposed approach integrates a camera with a GPS receiver to obtain a set of basic behaviours required of an autonomous mobile robot to inspect a crop field with full coverage. A path planner considered the field contour and the crop type to determine the best inspection route. An image-processing method capable of extracting the central crop row under uncontrolled lighting conditions in real time from images acquired with a reflex camera positioned on the front of the robot was developed. Two fuzzy controllers were also designed and developed to achieve vision-guided navigation. A method for detecting the end of a crop row using camera-acquired images was developed. In addition, manoeuvres necessary for the robot to change rows were established. These manoeuvres enabled the robot to autonomously cover the entire crop by following a previously established plan and without stepping on the crop row, which is an essential behaviour for covering crops such as maize without damaging them.
Keywords: GPS; crop inspection; fuzzy control; generation of autonomous behaviour; precision agriculture; visual servoing.