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Planting the Seeds of Robotics in Agriculture

TO revolutionize the agricultural landscape, Meraque Group, a local robotics solutions company, has unveiled an autonomous ground vehicle (AGV) known as Robotic Agro in Complex Environment (RACE).

This development marks a milestone in robotics automation in agriculture, promising to usher in a new era of efficiency and precision in farming practices in the nation.

RACE was launched by Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu during the Malaysia International Agriculture Technology Exhibition at the Setia Alam Convention Centre recently.

The launch showcases an enhanced and upgraded version of this pioneering agricultural innovation.

RACE's capability

As an AGV, RACE is designed to navigate the intricate and challenging terrain of agricultural environments. It boasts features that promise to redefine precision and efficiency in the industry.

Its features include mobility control powered by artificial intelligence (AI), long-range (LoRa) real-time data transmission, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) navigation, an expansive 500-litre smart liquid tank, 12-metre maximum spray width and a 30° terrain-climbing capability.

According to Meraque, it has secured patents for the incorporation of real-time kinematic LoRA technology, swarm technology and smart spraying within the RACE system.

The company said RACE was designed to decrease dependence on foreign labor and enhance fertilizer spraying consistency in crop and plantation fields, moving beyond just oil palm plantations.

With a high-power computing module in the brain and AI, RACE can navigate its way autonomously between plants, and analyses surroundings for decision-making and routing, while setting boundaries using high-precision location points.

RACE also has 360° vertical and horizontal directional spray functions, autonomous driving capabilities, a 700kg maximum load capacity, advanced obstacle avoidance detection systems and an electronic parking system.

The launch of RACE signifies Meraque's evolution from a company primarily focused on drone technology to one that champions robotic automation, powered by AI, tailored for the agriculture sector.

As an autonomous ground vehicle, RACE is designed to navigate the intricate and challenging terrain of an agricultural environment.

Market share

Meraque commands Malaysia's largest market share for drone spraying services and harbors bold ambitions.

By 2025, the company aspires to be among the top 10 largest agricultural technology robotic automation companies globally. Meraque envisions a transformative role for itself in the agriculture industry, driven by digitalization and innovation. The launch of RACE represents a milestone in this journey.

Meraque chief executive officer Md Razalee Ismail said the company's commitment to innovation and sustainability has driven them to develop RACE to not only transform the industry but also advance Malaysia's agricultural prowess on the global stage.

"With RACE, we have evolved from a drone company to a leader in robotic automation, and this is just the beginning. We want to play a significant role in realizing Malaysia's goal of becoming a hub for robotics in services, agriculture and manufacturing, and achieving recognition as a high-tech nation by 2023," said Razalee.

"The technology has undergone rigorous real-world testing in plantations, leaving clients highly satisfied with its capabilities. Following the launch, RACE will undergo commercialization."

Malaysia emerged in the 14th spot on the Automation Readiness Index and Robot Density. As an integral component of the National Robotics Roadmap, Malaysia is setting its sights on becoming a regional hub for robotics in sectors such as services, agriculture and manufacturing by 2030.


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