Robot goes into grain bins so farmers don’t have to

Grain Weevil Granary Management Robot
The Grain Weevil, a grain-managing robot, maneuvers adeptly through a bin teeming with grain. Images © Grain Weevil

One of the most challenging tasks for farmers is managing grain bins or granaries. Grain bins house an array of responsibilities that farmers need to routinely handle, which can often be daunting and perilous. However, a novel solution in the form of the Grain Weevil, a grain bin management robot, has been introduced to ease these hardships and hazards.

Traditionally, farmers have to brave the confines of grain bins for several essential tasks. These tasks include leveling the amassed grain to promote healthy air circulation, breaking up surface crusts and bridges, pulling down grain stuck on the walls, and pushing grain into an extraction auger when required. Not only are these tasks physically strenuous, but they also bear significant risks, including the possibility of becoming trapped or buried in the grain, injury from the auger, and lung disease from inhaling grain dust.

In light of these challenges, a friendly challenge posed by a fellow farmer prompted a father-and-son team, Chad and Ben Johnson, to devise a robotic solution. Based in Aurora, Nebraska, Chad, a science educator, and Ben, an electrical engineer, introduced the Grain Weevil.

The Grain Weevil is a square-shaped robot measuring around 20 by 20 inches and weighing about 50 lbs. Its mobility is facilitated by two motorized augers, allowing it to navigate through the grain piles. Operating on a 20-minute battery charge, the Grain Weevil can provide a substantial 90 minutes to two hours of continuous use.

Currently, the Grain Weevil works at a similar pace as a human with a shovel. It operates on human-initiated autonomy, meaning it can run movement patterns independently, but major decisions still require human intervention. However, the team is working towards making the robot Level 2 autonomous by the end of summer, allowing it to perform all tasks independently while the farmer merely oversees the operations.

Grain Weevil Granary Management Robot Motorized Augers
The cuboid Grain Weevil proficiently redistributes stored grain, navigating through it utilizing two motorized augers.

About the projected timeline for the robot’s release, Chad Johnson says, “We are on track for a soft release late this fall but are navigating the product safety regulations before we can have a widespread release.” Due to the risks associated with dust explosions in grain bins, the Grain Weevil must undergo strict safety tests. The final price of the grain bin management robot will only be determined after it has successfully completed all safety certifications, ensuring that it is a quality and safe product for farmers to use.

The Grain Weevil is a promising innovation in the farming industry, potentially revolutionizing the way farmers manage grain bins. It offers a safer, more efficient approach to managing grain, reducing the physical risk and workload for farmers, making it a potentially invaluable tool in modern farming.

Check out the video below to see the Grain Weevil in action.

Source: Grain Weevil