BT has delivered a robotics platform and management system as part of the Innovate UK-funded ‘Robot Highways’ project. The project is exploring the use of IoT and robotics in smart agriculture to drive automation, increase efficiency, and improve environmental sustainability.
The project aims to illustrate how a fleet of robots with various roles can interact and cooperate to form a robust and highly efficient supply chain operation.
In response to the challenge, BT and partners have demonstrated a vision of the future of soft fruit farming, where robotics, powered exclusively by renewable energy sources, will assist farmers by carrying out essential, energy intensive, physical farm processes. These include picking and packing fruit, as well as treating crops to reduce common pests and diseases.
By bringing together robotics and IoT, the project consortium has shown how key agricultural processes can be optimised through improving forecasting accuracy, increasing farm productivity, reducing farm labour and reducing fruit waste and fungicide use.
BT has developed and tested the edge and cloud architecture to deliver the infrastructure through which these IoT services can operate.
The technology employed by Robot Highways also supports the industry’s sustainability efforts to reduce fossil fuel use across all farming operations, helping to move the sector towards a carbon zero future.
The project is led by Saga Robotics, alongside partners BT, University of Lincoln, Berry Gardens Growers Ltd, Clock House Farm, University of Reading, and the Manufacturing Technology Centre.
John Davies, chief researcher, BT, says “We’re delighted to be part of the Robot Highways project to demonstrate how BT can help the agricultural sector to automate by integrating robotics and other solutions on a single platform. As a leader in network-based platforms and edge-infrastructure we are ideally placed to support advanced robotic farming operations.”
Anne Dingstad, CEO of Saga Robotics, says “We’re welcoming BT’s interest and support to help provide solutions that advance agricultural robotics in the UK. Connectivity plays a key part to advance automation and precision agriculture and to enable increased food production with less resources.”