Latest robotic systems in agriculture to be showcased at field days

September 3, 2014

Tristan Perez photo

Tristan Perez, Professor of Robotics at the Queensland University of Technology.

The future farm employing teams of small robots and sensors working to collect information and perform mechanical tasks will be outlined at this year’s Henty Machinery Field Days.

Leading field robotics research scientist Dr Robert Fitch will inform field day visitors on how ground and aerial robots will operate in broadacre agriculture, horticulture, bird tracking and commercial aviation.

Dr Fitch, senior research fellow with the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney, will be a keynote speaker at the field days new Agri-Centre on September 23-25.

He will be joined by Dr Andrew Lucas, managing director of AOS Pty Ltd and a board member of the Australian Association of Unmanned Systems, and Professor of Robotics Tristan Perez, Queensland University of Technology, to highlight industry developments.

Simon Denby, of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, will outline the evolving rules for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles.

The guest speakers have been arranged by the Australian Association of Unmanned Systems and will appear at the Agri-Centre from 1.45pm on Tuesday, September 23, and from 1.30pm on Wednesday and Thursday, September 24-25.

They will demonstrate the latest in robotic technology developed for the tree crop and vegetable industries.

Dr Fitch said interest in the use of automated machinery and software processes among agricultural and environmental groups had grown rapidly over the past five years.

“With better sensing, data analytics and real-time control, robots will be able to collect vast amounts of precise information about the health and maturity of crops,’’ he said.

“This information, along with the automation of mechanical processes, will help to increase the efficiency of farming, leading to better yield and profitability.

“We will also start to see new capabilities such as variable rate planting and fertigation, minimal (if any) chemical usage, and selective harvesting.’’

Dr Fitch said agricultural robotics had the potential to transform the way food was grown, produced and delivered.

Professor Tristan Perez has focused on integrated robot technology solutions, including ground robot vehicle design, computer-vision weed detection and produce grading in horticultural applications, and alternative weed destruction methods.

Prof Perez has also investigated robotic weed and crop manipulation, multi-robot operation planning, navigation and motion control, and the legal and economic aspects of robots.

“Robots an be used for tasks related to field and crop management enabling new management practices and data collection leading to further advances in precision agriculture,’’ he said.

“Like the internet and mobile phone technologies a decade ago, it is hard to envisage the full potential that having this technology deployed will bring.’’