Department of Mechanical Engineering

Commitment to excellence in its teaching, research, scholarship, and service missions.

The Virginia Tech AgBot team clinched first place in the third annual AgBot Challenge May 19 at Gerrish Farms in Rockville, Indiana, earning a top award of $30,000.

The 2018 event, hosted by Gerrish Farms and airBridge LLC, was broken into two separate challenges – weed and feed, and harvesting – with university and industry teams competing head-to-head for $100,000 in prizes.

Virginia Tech’s team won the watermelon harvesting challenge by creating an autonomous system that could identify, sort, and harvest ripe watermelons in a field. Each team in the harvesting competition was scored in mechanics, software, innovativeness of their solution, and execution of their solution.

To build a harvester and the autonomous vehicle that pulls it, two separate teams were formed. A mechanical engineering senior design team designed and built the harvester and a special studies team responsible for the autonomous vehicle that towed the harvester. As team lead, Hongxu “Howard” Guo, a double major in mechanical and electrical engineering, worked on both teams, coordinating the work of the two groups’ 14 people.

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