Mantis, as the name suggests, is a robot designed to imitate a Praying Mantis, an insect with a triangular head and bulging eyes supported on flexible necks which catches other insects or small animals with its powerful forelegs.
“IU22 Mantis Robot” was designed by Horus Mwaka, a Senior Research Assistant and Lab Administrator at the Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU).
He invented Mantis to identify pests and spray pesticides in the garden.
“It uses a camera to scan and move around the garden, scan each crop and check if it has pests. If it identifies pests, it sprays pesticides on that exact spot,” he told SoftPower News journalist, Rogers Atukunda, on Tuesday October 25, 2022 at the Kibuli, Kampala-based campus.
According to Mwaka, if Mantis finds a pest on one leaf, it does not spray the whole crop but that specific part (leaf).
“This is to save the amount of pesticides used and reduce on environmental pollution,” he noted, adding that excess pesticides can kill other organisms that help on the decomposition of organic matter in the soil.
Making of Mantis (system)
Mantis has two plastic containers for carrying pesticides.
It has a liquid pump which pumps pesticides from the containers to the arm where there is a nozzle for spraying.
The nozzle allows the pesticides to come out at high pressure and separates the small particles enough to kill the pests on plant leaves.
The robot has a password protected user interface or the main switching controller. It is used to allow the user to switch the system on. This interface allows the only person who knows the password to operate the robot.
“The password stops other people from switching the system on incase the robot is stolen,” Mwaka explained.
Mantis has a solar panel which keeps the battery charged using direct sun light as it works in the field.
It has a main control system which controls every party of the robot and all its activities like; moving the wheels, the arm, turning the camera in different directions, switching on and off of the liquid pump and generating the voices for the user in case of any problem (it gives a warning message).
It has two speakers which produce the sound for the robot to communicate with the user.
The camera (ESP 32 Camera) helps the robot to see the plants and find its way around the garden. It identifies pests and sprays pesticides.
It has a suspension system (rocker–bogie system) used by Mars Exploration Rovers (NASA’s motor vehicles designed to travel on the surface of Mars) to be able to balance and move successfully on rough terrain.
Mwaka says he used plastics and pipes for water plumbing (PPU) to make the robot.
“The housing and arm of the robot are made using cable trucking plastic materials. The housing of the control system is made of adaptable box used in electrical wiring joined with screws and superglue,” he explained.
He also used geared mortars (200 RPM speed) to move the wheels.
Smart farming (Green House)
Mwaka also designed a modern green house for what he termed as ‘smart farming’.
The green house enables smart crop growing by using sensor-based technology.
“When there isn’t enough water in the soil, irrigating crops is automatically done,” he noted.
The water pump attached to the green house automatically switches itself on and pumps water into the grow beds when irrigation is needed.
A grow bed or raised-bed gardening is a form of gardening in which the soil is raised above ground level and usually enclosed in some way.
Raised bed structures can be made of wood, rock, concrete or other materials, and can be of any size or shape. The soil is usually enriched with compost.
Mwaka’s green house has two fans that automatically go on when there is high temperature inside the green house.
“One fan takes out hot air and the other one brings in the cold air.”
Mwaka, who boasts of several other inventions, has just finished his Bachelor’s Degree of Information Technology from IUIU Kampala Campus which he studied on a scholarship.
He holds a Diploma in Mechanical and Production Engineering from Kyambogo University.
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