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Eco-friendly alternative to jet-ski and an intelligent farming robot

Eco-friendly alternative to jet-ski and an intelligent farming robot
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Its designer says it’s a new, eco-friendly version of the jet-ski.

The electric surfboard runs on batteries and, according to its developers, it emits hardly any noise compared to the traditional jet-ski. Anyone can ride it – no licence is needed, it is easy to transport and requires little maintenance.

The Exowatt is the brainchild of French entrepreneur Philippe Fretel, Philippe Fretel, General Manager at Exo Concept.

“For several years, I owned a water sports club in Miami, Florida and I noticed that the machines were getting bigger, heavier, and more energy-consuming. My idea was to create a machine that was more user-friendly, easier to store, and ran on clean, electric energy, protecting the environment not only from noise pollution but also from CO2 emissions,” said Fretel.

The propeller is concealed in a tube – making it safe for use in areas where people are swimming.

The engine runs on three batteries, which allow users to ride on the watercraft for up to one hour at a speed of 15 knots. The body is made of composite materials used in the aeronautics industry, which means it is lightweight, but strong.

A first prototype was launched back in 2011. Now, after several tests and technical adjustments, the vehicle is being commercialised. The standard version will cost you around 7,000 euros and a carbon fibre version will set you back some 20,000 euros.

Intelligent tractor

Researchers at Queensland University of Technology in Australia have come up with an intelligent tractor.

A lightweight, driverless buggy, the Agbot navigates through fields and sprays crops without damaging them.

“So, what we want to do is replace the big heavy machinery, which is just getting bigger and bigger and bigger, with small lightweight cooperative intelligent robots,” explained David Ball, researcher at Queensland University of Technology.

Demonstrating the the tractor’s internal wiring, he said: “Inside here is where we’ve got all the brains for the robot. Nothing’s remote controlled, nothing’s off board.”

The vehicle steers its way round obstacles by using cameras and a GPS tracking system. Its developers believe farmers could eventually have up to 10 robots operating on one farm round the clock.

They say the Agbot is an affordable alternative to noisy, fuel-guzzling traditional tractors.

“The real benefit in robotics is going to be new ways of growing crops, how we can increase the yield, how we can use our inputs like fertilizer more efficiently and how we can reduce the environmental impact of agriculture,” enthused farmer Andrew Bate.

Traditional large, heavy chemical weed sprayers cannot cross fields immediately after rain when the weeds are small. The robot would be able to eradicate weeds at that stage which would require less chemicals.

The machine is still in its testing phase, but researchers at Queensland University of Technology are convinced that within the next decade, robots like these will be planting, weeding and harvesting crops all over Australia, and beyond.