Patricia Preda, Alexandru Puscasu
Project developed in collaboration with LearnEX Excellence Centre
Author Note
Project developed for the World Robot Olympiad National stage, Romania, 2018

The aim of this paper is to investigate the necessity of a farmer robot – and
whether it can improve life quality, taking into consideration: health, safety and
legal issues that can be encountered in the development of the product. This project
outlines the chemical solutions people found in order to harvest more plants
annually and the impact these methods have over the health of human beings.

1. Introduction
For a quicker growth of fruits and vegetables, farmers use pesticides and chemical fertilizers,
which are known to kill soil biodiversity (e.g. earth warms and microorganisms), according
to [1]. United Nations state that food is at the core of “Sustainable Development Goals” and
it is part of the agenda for the 21st century. UN wishes by the end of 2030 to: “End hunger,
achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”, according
to [2]. The chemical fertilizers feed the plant, however, a study in 1973 associates high level
of sodium nitrates in the groundwater with the prevalence of gastric cancer, another one in
1996 with testicular cancer, and a more recent study shows that fertilizers play a significant
role in the development of methemoglobinemia, according to [3]. A poor soil watering causes
weeds growing which leads to the use of fertilizers and pesticides.

2. Chemical fertilizers effects
a. Health effects
A study conducted by Brown University concluded that the significant amount of
nitrites in chemical fertilizers can cause Alzheimer, DNA damage and lipid
peroxidation, according to [4]
b. Environmental effects
The big amount of nutrients from chemical fertilizers reduces the amount of oxygen
from the water, thus causing the fish to die. The same cause makes leaves to turn
yellow or brown, this condition is known as chemical leaf scorch, which makes the
plant to die, according to [5]

3. The gardening robot
a. The idea
A way in which to prevent weeds growing, therefore the use of pesticides and
chemical fertilizers, is to grow plants closely. The idea proposes a small, compact
robot which can help watering the plants. The first task the robot can perform is
separating the plants in two categories: beneficial herbs and weeds. After dividing
them, it is able to decide whether to water them or not based on their category.
b. Software schematic

The phone takes picture of the plant and it send it to Google Vision which will return
whether there is a plant or a weed. An arduino board is connected to the phone via
blueetoth, and the microcontroller is connected with the EV3 brick via I2C. If the
phone sees a plant, arduino controlls the electrovalve to open and water the plant,
otherwise, sends a message to the brick to move to the next plant. At each plant the
GPS module sends the location of the robot in the garden and saves the coordinates in
a database.

4. Google Vision
a. Flower Recognition
The phone takes a picture which is sent then to Google Vision API, which is going to
return the plant type

Upload Picture
Output sent by Google API

b. Weed Recognition

Upload Picture
Output sent by Google API

5. The World Robot Olympiad
Our robot won the 3rd place in Open Category, age 16-19, at the national stage in Romania.
The design we proposed was entirely build from LEGO and used Arduino microcontroller
and compatible sensors in order to deliver the task we have proposed. Below you can see
pictures from our experience.


[1] S. S. T. S. M. A. Hussain, Impact of Pesticides on Soild Microbial Diversity, Enzymes, and
Biochemical Reactions. Advances in Agronomy, 2009.
[2] „United Nations,” [Online]. Available:
depth/food/index.html. [Accessed january 2020].
[3] L. Buckler, „Ocupational Health and Safety,” 01 April 2018. [Online]. Available:
[4] B. Khiatah, „AmosInstitute,” [Online]. Available:
[5] J. Hunt, „Hunker,” [Online]. Available: