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Friday, September 11, 2009

Robotics in Agriculture Research Program

The agricultural industry is behind other industries in using robots because the sort of jobs involved in agriculture are not straight forward and many repetitive tasks are not exactly the same everytime. The main area of application of robots in agriculture is at the harvesting stage and robots are designed to replace human labour.

ICT-AGRI is the acronym for the project which has the full title “Coordination of European Research within ICT and Robotics in Agriculture and Related Environmental Issues”.

The overall goal of ICT-AGRI is to strengthen the European Research Area and develop a common European research agenda concerning ICT and robotics in agriculture. ICT-AGRI is funded by the European Commission's ERA-NET scheme under the 7th Framework Programme for Research.

ICT-AGRI has 18 partner organisations that finance or manage national or regional research programmes in Europe and associated countries. Many of the partner organisations will contribute funding for joint calls in the area of ICT and Robotics in Agriculture and related Environment Issues. The research projects will be funded using a real common pot or a virtual common pot instrument.

Some examples of earlier European agri-robot projects:

Researchers from the University of Warwick's horticultural arm, Warwick HRI, and its manufacturing engineering section, Warwick Manufacturing Group, are working on a number of robotics and automation products that will vastly reduce the labour costs of farmers and growers. Those projects include a robotic mushroom picker, a robot grass cutter, Aeropick, an inflatable conveyor belt system to aid the agricultural and horticultural harvesting process that offers huge savings in labour costs and an significant increases in productivity.

In the Netherlands Wageningen University are researching in small machinery and robots for agriculture. A Field Robot Event tested the tiny machines’ ability to navigate and detect weeds.

In Denmark research groups have developed a plant nursing robot (Hortibot(2007)), a computer assisted slope mowing robot Casmobot, , a robotic fruit picker is under development.

The Danish Agrobotic Network has been launched 2009 as part of a program with the main objective to further expand the cooporation and development within the agro-robotic field.

If you have any information about ongoing agro-robotics projects please comment or send an email.

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