This paper discusses the design and testing material utilized to collect ticks from rugged terrain in remote areas via a mobile robot using a mast system, focusing on locating the ideal design and material to ensure maximum tick collection without impacting mobility. Drags are used to collect ticks from short grass, and flags, in the air along the side of the robot, are used to collect ticks from tall grass and shrubs. The design was tested in the field and a laboratory. Cotton and sponge cloth materials were evaluated, along with the shape of the material.
The optimum design uses strips of rough sponge cloth to collect ticks. The roughness and fibrous nature of the material increase the number of ticks collected and performed the best of all materials tested. Seams in the sponge cloth allow them to tear away from the robot, if they become tangled in brush, to prevent the robot from being incapacitated. The thickness and weight of the sponge cloth also discourage the material from knotting and entangling with the robot or the environment.
The flag attachment points are adjustable horizontally to allow the rearrangement of strips for optimum tick collection. Each strip is designed for independent removal to contain ticks easily and replace strips quickly.
Attaching sponge cloth flagging and dragging strips to a mobile robot for tick collection protects humans from a potential illness from bugs and insects carrying disease pathogens, injury from traveling across rough ground, and harm due to exposure to the elements; productivity is also increased. The collection strips should capture ticks despite adverse conditions, be easily interchangeable, and not hinder the tick collection and removal process.