Graduate Studies


First Advisor

Santosh K. Pitla

Date of this Version

Summer 8-3-2023

Document Type



Tempelmeyer, Ian J. (2023). Flex-Ro: Development and Testing of a Semi-Autonomous Robotic Planter (Master's thesis). University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Agricultural and Biological Systems Engineering, Under the Supervision of Professor Santosh K. Pitla. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2023

Copyright © 2023 Ian James Tempelmeyer


The need for more crop production with minimal negative environmental impact is a continuing pursuit around the world. As the population continues to increase at an exponential rate, the demand for food, fiber, fuel, and energy also increases. Robotics and automation are seen as one of the useful technology tools to increase field productivity. This work specifically focuses on addressing labor challenges for one of the most important field operations, planting. A robotic planter unit was designed as part of this work that mounted on unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) to perform autonomous planting operation in a 1 ha (2.5 acre) field. For the robotic planter system, commercially available row units (Model: Kinze 3000 Series) were used to design a modular planter row-unit frame that was attached under the UGV (Flex-Ro). The designed robotic planter system and the associated control system were tested in both laboratory and field conditions. Autonomous planting of corn was successfully done in no-till field conditions. The efficacy of that planter at greater than 95% and emergence data at greater than 90% of desired population indicated that the robotic corn planting was successful. Additionally, engine power and electrical power data was monitored via CAN bus throughout the field trials to assess the power demands of robotic planting in a long term no-till field.

Advisor: Santosh Pitla