A Spatial AI-Based Agricultural Robotic Platform for Wheat Detection and Collision Avoidance

Sujith Gunturu, Arslan Munir, Hayat Ullah, Stephen Welch, Daniel Flippo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To obtain more consistent measurements through the course of a wheat growing season, we conceived and designed an autonomous robotic platform that performs collision avoidance while navigating in crop rows using spatial artificial intelligence (AI). The main constraint the agronomists have is to not run over the wheat while driving. Accordingly, we have trained a spatial deep learning model that helps navigate the robot autonomously in the field while avoiding collisions with the wheat. To train this model, we used publicly available databases of prelabeled images of wheat, along with the images of wheat that we have collected in the field. We used the MobileNet single shot detector (SSD) as our deep learning model to detect wheat in the field. To increase the frame rate for real-time robot response to field environments, we trained MobileNet SSD on the wheat images and used a new stereo camera, the Luxonis Depth AI Camera. Together, the newly trained model and camera could achieve a frame rate of 18–23 frames per second (fps)—fast enough for the robot to process its surroundings once every 2–3 inches of driving. Once we knew the robot accurately detects its surroundings, we addressed the autonomous navigation of the robot. The new stereo camera allows the robot to determine its distance from the trained objects. In this work, we also developed a navigation and collision avoidance algorithm that utilizes this distance information to help the robot see its surroundings and maneuver in the field, thereby precisely avoiding collisions with the wheat crop. Extensive experiments were conducted to evaluate the performance of our proposed method. We also compared the quantitative results obtained by our proposed MobileNet SSD model with those of other state-of-the-art object detection models, such as the YOLO V5 and Faster region-based convolutional neural network (R-CNN) models. The detailed comparative analysis reveals the effectiveness of our method in terms of both model precision and inference speed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)719-738
Number of pages20
JournalAI (Switzerland)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • agriculture
  • collision avoidance
  • deep learning
  • depth sensing
  • embedded computing
  • robotic platform
  • spatial AI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence


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