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Environment & Agriculture

Farming robots that can move autonomously in an open field or greenhouse promise a cleaner, safer agricultural future. But there are also potential downsides, from the loss of much-needed jobs to the safety of those working alongside the robots. To ensure that the use of autonomous robots on farms creates more benefits than losses, a process of responsible development is required. Society as a whole needs to be involved in setting the trajectories for future farming.

Combining drone imagery with weather data and planting schemes to forecast how much fresh vegetables a harvest is going to yield; that’s what predictive modelling intern Berend Klaver from TU Delft is sweating on at VanBoven, while his bosses are entertaining the American west coast. VanBoven is one of the ten winners of the Academic Startup Competition 2020, currently on tour in Silicon Valley for a 4-week incubator programme.

by   -   November 6, 2020
Tree sensors
Credit: Imperial College London

By Caroline Brogan

Imperial researchers have created drones that can attach sensors to trees to monitor environmental and ecological changes in forests.

interview by   -   October 19, 2020

In this episode, Abate interviews Josh Lessing, co-founder and CEO of Root AI. At Root AI they are developing a system that tracks data on the farm and autonomously harvests crops using delicate grippers and computer vision. Lessing talks about the path they took to build a product with good market fit and how they brought a venture capital backed startup to market.

interview by   -   August 25, 2020


In this episode, Lauren Klein interviews Gennaro Notimista, a robotics PhD student in the Georgia Robotics and InTelligent Systems Laboratory at Georgia Tech. Gennaro discusses the SlothBot, a solar-powered robot that slowly traverses wires, like its animal namesake, to monitor the environment.

interview by   -   December 10, 2017
Image: ICRA 2017

In this episode, Audrow Nash interviews several companies at the International Conference for Robotics and Automation (ICRA). ICRA is the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society’s biggest conference and one of the leading international forums for robotics researchers to present their work.

Farmers could protect the environment and cut down on fertiliser use with swarms of drones. Image credit – ‘Aerial View – Landschaft Markgräflerland’ by Taxiarchos228 is licenced under CC 3.0 unported
by Anthony King

Bee-based maths is helping teach swarms of drones to find weeds, while robotic mowers keep hedgerows in shape.


Mike Salem from Udacity’s Robotics Nanodegree is hosting a series of interviews with professional roboticists as part of their free online material.

Instead of worrying so much about robots taking away jobs, maybe we should worry more about wages being too low for robots to even get a chance. Seasonal labor for harvesting agricultural products, particularly fruits and vegetables, is dependent on human labor from a diminishing universe of willing workers.

Update: The response to Tertill’s crowdfunding campaign has amazed and delighted us! Pledges totalling over $250,000 have come from 1000+ backers. We’re shipping to all countries, with over a fifth of Tertill’s supporters coming from outside the United States. But the end is near; Tuesday (11 July) is the last full day of the campaign. After that Tertill’s discounted campaign price will no longer be available and delivery in time for next year’s (northern hemisphere) growing season cannot be assured.

Franklin Robotics has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Tertill, their solar-powered, garden-weeding robot.

Crops are key for a sustainable food production and we face several challenges in crop production. First, we need to feed a growing world population. Second, our society demands high-quality foods. Third, we have to reduce the amount agrochemicals that we apply to our fields as it directly affects our ecosystem. Precision farming techniques offer a great potential to address these challenges, but we have to acquire and provide the relevant information about the field status to the farmers such that specific actions can be taken.

This paper won the IEEE Robotics & Automation Best Automation Paper Award at ICRA 2017.

by   -   June 20, 2017

WeRobotics Global has become a premier forum for social good robotics. The feedback featured below was unsolicited. On June 1, 2017, we convened our first, annual global event, bringing together 34 organizations to New York City (full list below) to shape the global agenda and future use of robotics in the social good sector.  WeRobotics Global was kindly hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation, the first donor to support our efforts. They opened the event with welcome remarks and turned it over to Patrick Meier from WeRobotics who provided an overview of WeRobotics and the big picture context for social sector robotics.

The market for agricultural robots has the opportunity for significant expansion: the farming world needs to increase global production whilst it also faces challenges such as reduced availability and the rising costs of farm labour.

Source: Nesta.org, Precision Agriculture

Why are so many farm equipment manufacturers so heavily involved in the ag industry yet things are going so slowly in relation to robotics? Perhaps farmers need to first incorporate the digital era — and the concepts and practices of precision agriculture — before taking the next step toward the use of robots.

CBS News profiled a New Jersey vertical farm providing baby kale, arugula, spinach and romaine to nearby Newark and NYC groceries. They boast 130 times more productivity, 95% less water and no pesticides versus field farms. And they harvest 24 times a year, rain, snow or shine.



Intel RealSense Enabling Computer Vision and Machine Learning At The Edge
June 10, 2021


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