Since 2014, IALR scientists have used the Spatially and Mechanically Accurate Robotic Table (SMART) Platform for precision agriculture research. The SMART Platforms, which are precision imaging platforms to record and track plant growth, provide insight into plant population responses to environmental stimuli without harm to the plant and under controlled conditions. The tables use precision robotics and technology to record and analyze plant growth and movement in a variety of conditions for up to 15,000 plants at a time. The tables are thought to be the only plant imaging devices like them in the U.S. The SMART Platforms are essential in conducting research in a lab setting.

IALR’s SMART Platform project continues to garner interest from industry and academia. A new mountable camera head for testing soil characteristics was recently installed on the innovative table. Through a university collaboration, a group of five senior Virginia Tech mechanical engineers recently completed the camera head as their senior design project. Additionally, four STEM interns and an Engineering Fellow worked to move the tables to a new lab, designed new lighting to create a more functional and automated system, re-coded the in-house control system to run better, and integrated the new robotic head.


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Dr. Scott Lowman, Vice President of Applied Research, explains how IALR is a leader in plant science research thanks to the SMART Platform precision imaging systems. This system allows our research team to monitor up to 80 plants with detailed imaging and data analysis on factors like growth curves and stress.

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