It’s been around in horticulture for over 20 years: the Robocar. Eijmert Kleijn is the man behind the machine, and has been improving it since the initial development. "Sometimes I'm a little fed up with it," he admits.Eijmert Kleijn on the Robocar
It all started back in 1992, when Kleijn designed an unpretentious crate on wheels to help out a neighbour. “He needed some kind of cart to bring cucumbers from the fields into his sorting facility,” Kleijn remembers. The earliest design simply followed a red line on the floor, a concept quickly replaced by a nifty induction wire in the concrete floor. Since those days, Kleijn has been engaged in the development of Robocar: both a curse and a blessing, according to the inventor. “It’s basically still the same machine,” he smiles, “and after tweaking it for twenty-odd years, you tend to get a little weary. Anyway, I think it’s about done now. I wouldn’t know what else to do with it.”
After the introduction of the induction wire, the Robocar has seen ample improvements. The wire has been corrugated, and the groove is no longer filled up with concrete, but plastered with a cord and 2-component resin. All that to avoid a breach.
With the invention becoming a more regular presence in horticulture, actual traffic rules had to be implemented. "You don’t want them to collide at an intersection,” says Kleijn. "You have to determine which one gets to go first. In this case, it’s the one that first left its station. Greenhouses are increasingly large and complex, the infrastructure becoming a force to be reckoned with. A busy working area, like Agriport7, has over 20 Robocars driving around. You need clarity."
Even two decades after its introduction, the Robocar is still a coveted item. Distributors such as Brinkman, Arend Sosef, Van Vliet and Dorssen & Frensch sell the invention worldwide. Not bad for a ‘crate on wheels’.
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