An agricultural robotics project based in Lincoln is set to “transform” UK farming by automating the production of soft fruit.
New robots will be able to use artificial intelligence (AI) to collect heavy boxes from the fruit picking point and carry them to the collection point. The machine is designed to increase productivity at the point of picking.
The University of Lincoln along with Saga Robotics UK and Berry Gardens Growers started the two year project at the beginning of the year. It is the largest AI farming project in the EU and has been called “trailblazing” by the government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in its ‘AI Sector Deal’, through which the government has agreed to provide an additional £1bn of funding for UK-based AI innovation.
Simon Pearson, professor of Agri-Food Technology at Lincoln University, said: “We are delighted that Lincoln’s research has been recognised as a trailblazer for AI. Our work is focussed on the agri-food chain and this sector is now entering the digital age. These new and augmented technologies have the power to transform productivity within this critical sector of the UK economy.”
Ursula Lidbetter, chair of the Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said of the project: “Greater Lincolnshire is a major food-producing area and the agri-food industry is one of our six priority sectors. It’s fantastic to see a Lincolnshire-based project leading the way in AI.
“This will really put Lincolnshire on the map for developing technologies that can help and support the county’s food producers to grow and innovate.”