University students participate in international robotic farming competition

News Release Release Date: August 6, 2015 3:00 p.m.

A team of engineering students at the University of Regina will explore using robotics to plant and fertilize crops.

Fourth-year industrial engineering students, Sam Dietrich, Caleb Friedrick and Joshua Friedrick, supervised by Dr. Mehran Mehrandezh, are looking to design and implement hardware, software, sensors, and the human-machine control interfaces that will drive a robot to plant crops at an international competition next year in Indiana. They will be challenged with planting and fertilizing a total of 12 rows of crops, each a half mile long, in an assigned set of GPS coordinates.

The students, who participated in Mehrandezh’s Mechatronics class in the 2015 winter semester, will be the only Canadian university students taking part in the international competition, which includes teams from Michigan State University, Ohio State University, Purdue University and Virginia Tech University.

“This competition will give students a chance to apply the theory they have learned in their classes. Field robotics is an emerging research area,” says Mehrandezh.

The event will be held on May 7, 2016, near Rockville, Indiana. The team judged to have the most successful design will be awarded $50,000. The competition also includes a $30,000 second-place prize and $20,000 third-place prize.

"As a student, it’s vital to enter these competitions because it's directly applicable to real world engineering problems," says Dietrich.

Currently the team is at the preliminary design stage. That includes talking to agricultural manufacturing firms to gain support through funding and equipment donations.

“As we are still in the design stage and the competition is highly competitive, we can't reveal too much,” says Dietrich. “The final solution will be an autonomous piece of farming equipment that once given a set of seeding coordinates will both seed and fertilize the desired area while providing real time information to a control room.”
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NOTE TO MEDIA: Joshua Friedrick is available for interviews at 306-531-7332 or


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