Robotic cornucopia: Robohub focuses on the state-of-the-art and the future of agricultural robotics
With an ever-increasing need to feed the world’s hungry, the agricultural sector has long been an important boon to the field of robotics: the sector’s widespread acceptance and use of automation technologies has already become an important engine for robotic R&D and business activity, and labour shortages in many food-growing regions combined with an increasing public demand for more targeted, responsible pesticide and fertilizer use will further incentivize the agricultural sector to invest in robotics and automation.
Yet current investment in robotic solutions by the agricultural sector is a fraction of its potential, and many financial, regulatory, practical and social obstacles prevent farmers from implementing these at a commercial scale.
In order to delve into the complex ecosystem of obstacles and pathways to agricultural robotic innovation, Robohub is launching a focus series “Agricultural Robotics” featuring original articles and interviews from leading experts in the fields of robotics, agricultural automation and farming.
The series will look at:
- How and where robotics is currently being used to augment and influence agricultural practice;
- What new innovations are in the R&D pipeline, and what obstacles await these;
- What are the potential business models and pathways for bringing these innovations to the point of commercial viability;
- What farmers and consumers think about incorporating robotics into farming practice; and
- Specific technologies such as UAVs, tractor automation and picking solutions.
We will be covering a whole range of perspectives — R&D development, regulation, business and investment, practical implementation, and sustainable farming — from an excellent line-up of contributors.
Not surprisingly, drone technology features heavily in this series:
- Based on his experience developing drones for farmers, Chris Anderson of 3D Robotics gives us Ten lessons for farm drones
- Ernest Earon of PrecisionHawk argues that, in agriculture, the future of UAV innovation is in the cloud
- Rich Tuttle from AUVSI looks at how the market for field drones, both in the US and internationally, will change when the FAA lifts its regulations in 2015 in Unmanned systems coming to commercial agriculture
- Robert Morris of TerrAvion looks at drone data and the importance of Matching technology to value creation
- Similarly, Patrick Egan of sUASNews looks at the value proposition of UAVs in Down on the farm with drones
But of course there is more to high-tech farming than drones!
- We will learn about small autonomous farming robots from David Dorhout of Dorhout R&D
- Peter Corke of QUT will discuss the use of robotics for zero-tillage agriculture
- Jorge Heraud of Blue River Technology will talk about using computer vision and robotics to build intelligent solutions for lettuce-thinning
- Kendra Kerrisk of FutureDairy discusses robotic milking and herding technology
- Joseph Jones of Harvest Automation looks at the the forces that drive where commercial robots will be applied in agriculture, using as an example Harvey: A working robot for container crops that distributes and collects container-grown plants in greenhouses and nursery farms
- Jeremy Brown of Jaybridge Robotics explores the trajectory from precision farming to autonomous farming using the Kinze Autonomous Grain Harvesting System as a case study
- Our own John Payne writes about the power of robotics to radically transform the way we think about agriculture
- And Nikolaus Correll from the University of Colorado will take us far beyond earth’s green fields to look at robotic systems for horticulture in outer space
Many thanks to AUVSI for sharing their enlightening infographic on the history of machinery in the fields from their recent issue of Mission Critical. Thanks also to our podcast team, and especially to Ron Vanderkley, who has organized so many of podcast interviews for the series. Thanks Ron!
Hope you enjoy!