Prof Duckett to speak at Agri-Robotics event

Robotics, automation and associated technologies

As part of Arable Horizons hosted by Farmers Weekly, University of Lincoln Professors, Tom Duckett, School of Computer Science / lead for Lincoln Centre for Autonomous Systems and Simon Pearson, Founder of the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology (LIAT), will be speaking at the National Space Centre, Leicester, on 26th April 2017.

Arable Horizons is a series of 5 interactive talks, hosted by Farmers Weekly and in partnership with Syngenta, which cover some of the most exciting and innovative agricultural research; from robot-assisted farming to gene-edited crops. Exploration into the development of higher yields and cheaper production are key themes, as well as bringing a greener and more stable future for British agriculture.

The topic, “Robotics, automation and associated technologies”, will discuss exactly how robots and other related technologies will make UK farming more efficient than ever, whilst reducing the cost of labour and pesticides.

Pictured is Thorvald, LIAT's Agri-Robot.
Pictured is Thorvald, LIAT’s Agri-Robot.

Editor of Farmers Weekly, Karl Schneider, is a keen supporter of British agriculture: “UK arable farmers face a variety of unprecedented challenges over the next 25 years, from pesticide resistance and soil degradation to climate change and feeding an increasing population. Farmers Weekly, in partnership with Syngenta, want to draw attention to some of the individuals and institutions working to ensure a more productive and sustainable future for UK agriculture. We want to highlight some of the incredibly exciting research projects currently underway in the sector, projects that could genuinely change the way we farm in 2040.”

UK agricultural researchers, scientists and agronomists will be in attendance, as well as the nation’s farmers. The event will be a fantastic opportunity to chat and network with agri-robotic professionals Weekly staff and guest speakers Prof Tom Duckett and Prof Simon Pearson.

You can register for the talks here.


The agenda for the event:

17.30 – 18.00

(30 mins)

Drinks and nibbles will be provided for guests on arrival, with the chance for delegates to network before the formal start of the evening.

18.00 – 18.10

(10 mins) Introduction from Farmers Weekly Editor, Karl Schneider

Karl Schneider will introduce the evening: the idea behind the project, the topic, speakers and guests, partnership with Syngenta, and opportunities for interactivity throughout the talk.

18.10 – 18.50

(40 mins) Prof Tom Duckett presents ‘Robotics, automation and associated technologies’ Arable Horizons talk.

University of Lincoln professor and Head of the Lincoln Centre for Autonomous Systems Tom Duckett presents an introductory overview of the current use of robotics and associated technologies in agriculture and what some of the recent/future advances could mean for UK farmers. Prof. Duckett will talk about some of his own research and how we can work with other industries to make the integration of new machinery and technology into the farmers’ everyday toolkit as simple and productive as possible.

 

18.50 – 19.15

(25 mins) Prof Simon Pearson presents a talk on the most exciting future agricultural technology projects.

University of Lincoln professor and Founding Director of the Lincoln Institute of Agri Food Technology Simon Pearson presents his talk on some of the specific projects focussed on novel robotics and machinery, their integration into the UK agriculture industry and what it could mean for the farmer on the ground.

19.15 – 20.00

(45 mins) Interactive session with Prof Tom Duckett, Prof Simon Pearson & Karl Schneider

Karl Schneider will chair the interactive session in which the panel will take questions on the topics of robotics and associated technologies from the audience, both from guests in the room and those watching online.

20.00 – 20.20

(20 mins) Presentation from Syngenta on their work in robotics and the potential for the future

A Syngenta expert will present on what they as an organisation are doing in the area of robotics and machinery and how their research could help farmers tackle some of their most common and costly issues.

20.20 Dinner

The new home of of Computer Science at University of Lincoln

The University of Lincoln recently invested £28m to create the Isaac Newton Building – the new home for our School of Computer Science. We join the Schools of Engineering and Maths & Physics in this stunning new setting.

The new building is named after one of Lincolnshire’s greatest sons, Sir Isaac Newton PRS MP, who was born at Woolsthorpe Manor near Grantham.

Current students entered a competition set by the University, which was to create a piece of art for the large signature wall in the Isaac Newton Building. Over 30 entries were received from seven different schools across the University representing a wide range of disciplines.

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The large scale artwork is now in-situ

The judging panel deliberated hard, finally selecting an entry created by level one Creative Advertising students Amelia Eddershaw and Orlagh Smith as the winning piece. The judges felt their submission had interpreted the brief creatively and in doing so had presented a dynamic, engaging piece with the high level of impact that the panel was looking for.

The artwork is visible to people making their way to the University from Tritton Road.

This artwork competition has clearly demonstrated the impressive talent available in the University of Lincoln student community and the competition organisers and judging panel would like to extend thanks to all those who took part. An exhibition of the best entries will be on display in the University Library from April 2017.

24 Hour Virtual Reality Hackathon

Students and staff alike enjoyed a 24 hour Virtual Reality Hack which took place at 12pm on Saturday 11th February.

The aim of the event was for students to create and develop software systems as well as being given the chance to test and try out state-of-the-art VR equipment.

The Hackathon started with the theme announcement, “Revolution with modifiers including: no hands, second person perspective , 360 and non-human.”

Attendees from MASS and Siemens came to present a ‘Choice’ award to students along with prizes, which included Amazon vouchers, a Virtual Reality headset and a drone.

The award winners:

Most Technical Award” – Andrew Cardwell and Marlon Gillium

“Most Polished Award” - Saif Al-Atrash

Best Use of Theme Award” – Team ‘Wii tried’

Most Complete Game” – Team ‘Glorious Russian Hackers’

“The Siemens Choice Award” – Liam Mason

The MASS Choice Award” – Saif Al-Atrash

“The Mass Choice Award” – Andrew Cardwell and Marlon Gillium

Thank you to all students, staff and our guests from MASS and Siemens for making it such an enjoyable event.

Sun and memories help ants navigate backwards

Desert ants rank among the best insect navigators in the world, and now a scientific study shows their navigational skills are even more sophisticated than previously thought.

Scientists have revealed how the insects – which walk backwards when carrying heavy loads of food – use the sun’s position and visual memories of their surroundings to guide them home.

Ants were known to use both processes but, until now, these were assumed to be two separate reflexes that required ants to be facing in their direction of travel. Instead, researchers have shown that ants walking backwards will occasionally look behind them to check their surroundings, and use this information to set a course relative to the sun’s position. In this way, the insects can maintain their course towards the nest regardless of which way they are facing, the team found.

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The findings suggest ants can understand spatial relations in the external world, not just relative to themselves.

The surprisingly flexible and robust navigational behaviour displayed by ants could inspire the development of novel computer algorithms – step-by-step sets of operations – to guide robots.

An international team of scientists, including researchers at the University of Lincoln and the University of Edinburgh, studied a colony of desert ants in Seville to see how the insects navigate when transporting different-sized pieces of food. Although they usually walk forward when carrying small pieces of food, ants often walk backwards to drag larger items to their nest.

The team sunk barriers into the ground to create a one-way route to the nest. They then gave ants either a small or large piece of cookie, and observed how they made their way home.

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Dr Michael Mangan, based in the School of Computer Science at the University of Lincoln, specialises in modelling the navigational behaviour of insects and explores how this can translate into cutting-edge robotics. Dr Mangan said: “These amazing animals navigate through complex habitats despite their tiny brains and poor quality eyes.  Here we show how a simple “peeking” behaviour allows homing ants to combine directional information from multiple. Revealing their navigational strategies could lead to development of new sensors and control systems for robots.”

Previous research has shown that ants walking forwards find their way by comparing what they see in front of them with visual memories of the route. The team found that ants traveling backwards instead use the sun’s position in the sky to guide them.

To ensure they stay on course, backward-walking ants also routinely drop what they are carrying and turn around. They do this to compare what they see with their visual memories of the route, and correct their direction of travel if they have wandered off course.

Future studies could help to determine the interplay between different regions in the ant brain that enables the insects to use and combine different forms of navigation, the team says.

The study, published in the journal Current Biology, was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The research was carried out in collaboration with other scientists at the Australian National University and the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS).

The study has been covered by media outlets around the world, including BBC News Online.

University of Lincoln, UK