The 4th International VDI Conference in Düsseldorf, Germany, recently explored the topic of whether farmers and regulators are prepared for automation and robotics in agriculture. The event brought together about 40 experts from around the world in the fields of automation and robotics in agriculture, including representatives from field robot manufacturers such as AgroIntelli, Digital Workbench, Earth Rover, Naïo Technologies, Odd.Bot, PeK Automotive, and Small Robot Company. Multinational companies like DeLaval, Pöttinger, Sick, Trimble, and Septentrio also had speakers at the conference.
Gaëtan Séverac, co-founder of Naïo Technologies, spoke about the challenges faced when it comes to using field robots for tasks like hoeing and weed removal in crops with diverse characteristics. Safety and security are also significant concerns, especially compared to robots used in greenhouses and warehouses or autonomous road vehicles. It is essential to have a human operator in charge of field robots, as there is currently no clear responsibility or liability framework if something goes wrong. However, this does not diminish the enthusiasm for technological advancements in the industry.
Naïo Technologies, for instance, has already sold over 350 field robots and accumulated 80,000 hours of autonomous navigation. Josef Schmidt, CEO of Digital Workbench, highlighted how agriculture can leverage advances in automation and autonomy from the automotive industry. Affordable sensors and cameras, such as LiDAR, radar, visual cameras, and ultrasonic sensors, enable safe autonomous operations. The advantage in agriculture lies in privately owned fields, which reduces potential safety risks.
However, Schmidt also emphasized the importance of having professional work planning rather than relying solely on farmers. Proper operation planning, similar to that used in the industrial sector, is crucial for ensuring satisfactory results with automated systems.
As agriculture continues to embrace automation and robotics, events like the VDI Conference serve as necessary platforms for discussion and exploration. They enable stakeholders to exchange knowledge, address challenges, and collectively drive the industry forward.
– Future Farming: [source article]