Thesis Defense Announcement for Austin Flynt — 10/14/2021 at 11:00am

September 28, 2021

Faculty and Students,

You are cordially invited to my thesis defense.

Title: Unmanned Ground Vehicle System to Collect Soil Moisture Data

When: Thursday, October 14th at 11:00am

Where: Microsoft Teams

Candidate: Austin Flynt

Degree: Masters, Electrical and Computer Engineering


Dr. Mehmet Kurum
(Major Professor)

Dr. Ali Gurbuz
(Committee Member)

Dr. John Ball
(Committee Member)

With an increased interest in precision agriculture, it is important to identify efficient ways to monitor soil moisture. Soil moisture can be monitored using handheld sensors, but this method is laborious and time consuming. Remote methods, such as radar systems can be used as well, but these methods require ground truth data to verify their accuracy. It becomes clear that to collect this data regularly and reliably, a mobile robotic device would be necessary. This thesis proposes to implement a mobile robotic instrument that can traverse crops to take soil moisture measurements with less human effort than existing methods while maintaining the same accuracy. This soil moisture data collection system uses an unmanned ground vehicle to carry sensors and log their position at the time of measurement. This system uses two measurement methods to collect data: an actuator inserted soil moisture probe, and a radio frequency identification (RFID) sensing system that uses buried moisture sensing tags. Data from both systems is logged and later mapped onto a satellite image of the measured area along with the path driven by the rover. Field testing of both measurement systems showed that the actuator-based system, in its final form, worked reliably; however, the RFID based system could not read tags in wet soil. Overall, the system worked using the probe tool and could create a map of soil moisture.