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SmartWheels robot

Field Robot Event 2005

Competition Web Page

In 2005, the Event was held in Wageningen, the Netherlands. The Finnish team was participating in the competition for the first time that year.

The robot was built together by students from Helsinki University of Technology (automation technology) and University of Helsinki (agrotechnology). The school project started in October 2004 and the goal was to create an autonomous robot capable of passing the tasks in the fieldrobot competition.

In the results the robot achieved 4th place in Task 1, 3rd place in Task 3 and 2nd place in Freestyle task; while in the overall ranking it achieved 5th place.

Team members

  • Matti Honkanen (TKK)
  • Kosti Kannas (TKK)
  • Hannu Suna (TKK)
  • Jere Syvänne (TKK, team captain)
  • Hannu Gröhn (UoH)
  • Mikko Hakojärvi (UoH)
  • Aleksis Kyrö (UoH)
  • Matti Selinheimo (UoH)
  • Juho Säteri (UoH)

Team was supervised by researchers


The robot is built on four wheel RC-platform that uses DC-motors. The platform was selected to save time for the implementation of the navigation system. Motors and sensors are connected to microcontroller that again is connected to a laptop computer that handles the main program cycle. The microcontroller is only used as a bridge between the laptop software and the instruments. The robot uses information from the USB web cam ultrasonic sensors and compass for navigation in the field. The Windows software in the laptop controls the robot according to certain navigation algorithms and tasks.



In the first task the robot had to show performance in basic navigation (follow the rows, turn in the headland always to the next row). SmartWheels chassis was based on RC-platform, that was stiffened with hard springs to be able to carry laptop, sensors and accessories. The suspension did not work so well in uneven competition field. However, SmartWheels was ranked into 4th place in this task.

The second task was about counting the maize plants in the field. The SmartWheels relied on using infrared switch and counting the number from pulse signal. SmartWheels was counting too little pulses, as it detected only half of the plants (too strict filter), but still it achieved 3rd place in this task. This task was carried out in the same run as the Task 1 (Basic navigation).

The third task was testing the robots in long curved lines. The rows were rather long and the soil was even more bumpy than in Basic navigation task. It was seen also in this task that stiff suspension with differentials caused plenty of slip and the robot lost the traction in the second row. In the headland the robot had to do turning to every other row. SmartWheels did the turning nicely and it was appreciated by the audience. However, the robot did not navigate in the rows that smoothly, too much waving, and therefore the jury reduced the style points.

In Freestyle task each team may demonstrate what other tasks a robot can do. Team Finland presented an inter-row sprayer system installed on rear of the robot. The robot navigated between the rows like in regular tasks and the sprayer was enabled only in rows, disabled in headlands. The original plan was to spray the individual plants one by one, but due to the lack of time for testing, it was not tested not before two hours before the competition. Then it was discovered that the sprayer sprays too much liquid and there were no replacement nozzles. So the freestyle was changed a bit simpler one, as the captain was afraid that jury does not appreciate if the robot makes their trousers wet... The jury gave to SmartWheels most points, but in the end it was declared that SmartWheels was in the second place in freestyle.

The robot chassis was based on RC-platform (Tamiya Clodbuster). No changes to gear ratios were made, which caused some troubles when accelerating from stall position (low stall torque). However, the maximum speed of the robot was very fast as can be seen in video taken after the race...

See more videos about Field Robot Event 2005. Read all about the robot in the Proceedings Proceedings 2005 pdf


The team was sponsored by:


Timo Oksanen