Optimal route planning of agricultural field operations using ant colony optimization
Keywords:route planning, B-patterns, area coverage, operation efficiency
Farming operations efficiency is a crucial factor that determines the overall operational cost in agricultural production systems. Improved efficiency can be achieved by implementing advanced planning methods for the execution of field operations dealing, especially with the routing and area coverage optimisation aspects. Recently, a new type of field area coverage patterns, the B-patterns, has been introduced. B-patterns are the result of a combinatorial optimisation process that minimizes operational criterions such as, the operational time, non-working travelled distance, fuel consumption etc. In this paper an algorithmic approach for the generation of B-patterns based on ant colony optimisation is presented. Ant colony optimization metaheuristic was chosen for the solution of the graph optimisation problem inherent in the generation of B-patterns. Experimental results on two selected fields were presented for the demonstration of the effectiveness of the proposed approach. Based on the results, it was shown that it is feasible to use ant colony optimization for the generation of optimal routes for field area coverage while tests made on the resulting routes indicated that they can be followed by any farm machine equipped with auto-steering and navigation systems.