Willitis, CA—Mounting concerns about environmental damage from agricultural chemical over-use has led to the development of an automated roadside weed-spraying system, called Sidewinder from Microphor. The pickup truck-mounted system, composed of a moving-boom spray-head assembly, a fixed spray-head assembly, obstacle-detecting sensors, weed-seeking sensors, and a PLC, reportedly reduces the amount of chemicals used by 50-80%.
When sensors on the spray-head assemblies detect the light spectrum associated with chlorophyll, solenoids independently activate nine fixed and four moving spray heads to apply weed killer. "It's like a weed seeker that only sprays herbicide when it sees green, seeking out and destroying individual weeds," explains Ted Mayfield, president and general manager of Microphor. "So herbicide is conserved and not wasted on bare surfaces."
The biggest challenge is moving the arm in and out to dodge obstacles such as utility poles, paddle markers, and speed-limit signs, as the truck travels at 5-10 mph. "We needed a large motor with enough torque to move the 70-lb retractable spray head assembly 4.5 ft in 0.5 sec," notes Mayfield. He selected a NEMA 56 size SmartMotor™ from Animatics (Santa Clara, CA) because "its built-in digital servoamplifier, microprocessor, and encoder simplifies the application."
For more information about SmartMotor from Animatics: Enter 533