Colobee, a gardening robot that fights the Colorado potato beetle in an environmentally friendly way.

What all 20 finalists of the James Dyson Awards global innovation competition have in common is that they represent innovative objects or processes that are attractive to the environment. So it is with invention Joseph Shimelevich, a student at the Bialystok University of Technology in Poland, who competes with a robot that is an alternative to chemical spraying of potato crops, in an ecological way fights beetles, the sworn enemies of potatoes … This robot destroys both beetles and their larvae in potato plants. A solution to a problem that many growers face, especially those involved in organic farming, as the invented robot does not use any chemicals. Opening.

Where did this idea come from?

Joseph Shimelevich always lived on a farm when he was little, and about the problems of beetles in potatoes, he always heard about them … First his family collected them by hand, then chemical spraying appeared … When he became an engineer, he was looking for his thesis, an ecological answer to this serious problem for potatoes. While doing his research, he realized that biological agents had little power over the Colorado potato beetle, and that the same creature had developed a resistance to chemical products… So he kept a much more efficient “manual picker” in the end, but robotized it as COLOBEIA.

“This avoids the difficult and tedious manual collection of the Colorado potato beetle.” Photo: Józef Shimelevich

How does the COLOBEE robot work?

The robot consists of a mobile platform and a device that picks up bugs. The mobile platform is a steel structure equipped with four driving wheels driven by electric motors powered by two batteries. It can also be adjusted to the width of the rows on the four standards used in the cultivation of potatoes … It then consists of a process of shaking the plants, which captures them without damaging them, and which makes the insects in the basket. The shaking device can be adjusted in height above the ground to be as close as possible to the height of the potato plants. The robot mimics a manual motion by hitting the plants with the brushes… Once the first furrow is free of bugs, COLOBEE makes a half turn on its own and attacks the next row… The robot can repeat the treatment several times a week depending on the presence of pests.

Why is it not?

As we have already told you, if this is different, it is simply because there is still no device for shaking beetle larvae to remove them from potato plants … And, obviously, this is the first automatic robot inspired by the work of people. to perform this kind of tasks which are tedious and tedious for people. The prototype has already been created and the inventor has tested it on his own farm… Now he would like to industrialize his invention, equip it with a security system and a practical user interface… In May last year, he already received, in Poland, the first place in the competition “Young Innovator” and Grand Prize in the KoKoS Student Building Competition in the “Master of Innovation” category.

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