Hainan, China – An automated rubber tapping robot, featuring long-range low-power wide-area networking (LPWAN), has won its first-of-it-kind design award in China.
The automation and monitoring system can improve yield by up to 300% over manual tapping while ‘significantly reducing’ injury risks to workers, said STMicroelectronics which provided the long-range wireless microcontrollers for the robot.
Designed and manufactured by Ningbo Cihevea Technology, the robots have been used on “more than 200,000 rubber trees” within ‘the world’s first’ smart rubber plantation, said STMicroelectronics 17 Sept.
The system, said the semiconductors maker, increases latex yield by two to three times while “minimising damage to trees and prolonging the trees’ productive lifespan.”
The robot, it went on to say “resolves chronic labour challenges, as tree tapping can be difficult and dangerous for human workers.”
In a recent statement Cihevea said it developed the system over nine years in collaboration with Haijiao Group, which has, in recent years, increased its investments in the technological innovation of the entire supply chain of natural rubber.
The system features a rubber plantation data control unit, which acts as a master control.
The data signals are sent and received through a secondary base station, which transmits instructions to “synchronously control tens of thousands of tapping machines.”
According to Cihevea, rubber tapping information, real-time tree data and environmental information such as soil, temperature, humidity and fertilisation help the data control centre to “scientifically increase the output of rubber trees.”
“The fully-automatic, intelligent, rubber-tapping system is a revolution for the rubber industry,” said Xu Zhen Kun, vice chairman of Cihevea.
The smart rubber-plantation platform system, he went on to say, is creating “a new rubber-plantation ecosystem, moving away from traditional high-intensity, heavy-pollution and inefficient production methods.”