Tag Archives: Robotics

The role robotics could play in future food production

A team of computer scientists from the University of Lincoln, UK, is co-organising an international workshop on recent advances in agricultural robotics.

Academics from the Lincoln Centre for Autonomous Systems (L-CAS) will be attending the 13th International Conference on Intelligent Autonomous Systems (IAS-13) from 15th to 19th July, 2014.

Recent results confirm that robots, machines and systems are rapidly achieving intelligence and autonomy, mastering more and more capabilities such as mobility and manipulation, sensing and perception, reasoning and decision making.

The Series of International Conference on Intelligent Autonomous Systems (IAS) founded in 1986 is one of the major events summarising this trend.

As part of this year’s conference Lincoln scientists will be running a workshop with the aim of bringing together both academic and industrial communities to discuss recent advances in robotic applications for agriculture and horticulture.

The world’s rapidly growing population brings new challenges for global food security. To meet the future demand for more, cheaper and better quality food, new and innovative solutions and improvements to current agricultural practices are required. Agricultural robotics is one of the promising technological solutions for addressing these problems.

Dr Grzegorz Cielniak, senior lecturer in the School of Computer Science, said: “The workshop will provide a forum to present the state-of-the-art technical solutions in agricultural robotics and new exciting robotics platforms, but also to encourage future collaborations between the participants.

“Recent examples have shown agricultural robotics autonomously performing a number of different agricultural tasks, from monitoring soil and crop properties and harvesting fruit in orchards, to mechanical weeders eliminating the need for herbicides to produce affordable, safer food. Using teams of small specialised agricultural robots instead of the currently used heavy machinery can result in lower soil compaction leading to energy savings, but also in more robust systems in the case of technical failures. The number of potential new applications is enormous.”

Projects involving L-CAS include a 12-month feasibility study, funded by a £132,000 grant from the Technology Strategy Board, to create a system of laser sensors to accurately control agricultural sprayers.

Other tasks include the creation of new multi-purpose imaging technology to undertake quality inspection tasks in the food industry; automatic identification of potato blemishes and improvements in the seal integrity of heat-sealed packaging.

The workshop is supported by IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Technical Committee on Agricultural Robotics & Automation and is a continuation of previous agricultural robotics events held as part of IROS2012 and ICRA2008 conferences.

IAS-13, which is taking place in Padova, Italy, invites researchers, engineers and practitioners to disseminate their achievements and provides them with a forum to exchange their ideas.

Agricultural robotics helping to meet the demand for future food production
Agricultural robotics helping to meet the demand for future food production

University robot invited to launch of prestigious Longitude Prize

Linda the robot was one of the star attractions at the high-profile Longitude Prize 2014 launch, which aims to help solve one of the greatest issues of our time.

Linda is one of six specialist mobile robots involved in the £7.2 million collaborative STRANDS project aimed at creating robots that are able to operate independently and ultimately support security guards or staff in care homes.

Based at the University of Lincoln, UK, Linda was invited to attend New Broadcasting House in London for the official launch of the Longitude Prize on Monday, 19th May.

In 1714 the British government threw down the gauntlet to solve one of the great scientific challenges of that century – how to pinpoint a ship’s location at sea by knowing its longitude.

Longitude Prize 2014 is a challenge with a multi-million pound prize fund to help solve one of the greatest challenges we’re facing today. It is being run and developed by Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation.

Linda will be accompanied by Dr Marc Hanheide from the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science and Dr Nick Hawes from the University of Birmingham, who are collaborating on the STRANDS project.

Dr Hanheide, whose background is in Artificial Intelligence, is leading the research on how the robots gather information about their surroundings, and use this learned knowledge to interact appropriately with human users.

Dr Hanheide said: “It was fantastic to be asked to show off Linda at this hugely prestigious event. Two of the other robots are currently at G4S Technology in Tewksbury, UK, and the care facility Haus der Barmherzigkeit in Vienna, Austria, so we will soon be able to see how effective they are in real-world environments and use this data to develop their future learning models.”

Other partners in the STRANDS project include Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden); RWTH Aachen University (Germany); The Vienna University of Technology (Austria) and University of Leeds (UK).

Linda will be continuing her travels in June 2014, watch this space for details!


Linda and Dr Marc Hanheide
Linda and Dr Marc Hanheide


Robotics project highlighted as one of the best in Europe

The European Commission has named the STRANDS robotics project as one of the best, as part of EU Robotics Week.

Lincoln’s robot Linda has been taking part in a robot marathon this week, squaring off against robot partners in Leeds, Birmingham,  Sweden, Germany and Austria.

The robots have been battling it out to be the last one standing – the challenge is for them to autonomously patrol a populated environment for as long as possible, covering the most distance in the shortest time.

Linda is currently in the lead on best distance travelled. Go Linda!

STRANDS is an EU-funded project enabling robots to achieve robust and intelligent behaviour in human environments.
The robots will be evaluated in a care home for the elderly in Austria (assisting human carers), and in an office environment patrolled by G4S Technology security firm.

Follow the final stages of Linda’s progress in the robot marathon at http://strands.acin.tuwien.ac.at/marathon.html

Funded PhD Position – Cognitive Robotics

Using robots to understand animal social cognition:

We are offering a funded PhD position for an enthusiastic and highly-motivated student to join a thriving and dynamic research environment, and benefit from close associations with both the School of Life Sciences and the School of Computer Science.

The aim of this project is to develop a robot that is able to respond dynamically to the behaviour of the focal animal and use it in a series of cognitive experiments. Bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) are an ideal model species for such an endeavour. They are responsive to social cues and show sophisticated social learning abilities. In addition they have relatively simple behavioural repertoires and movement patterns which can be accurately replicated by a robotic simulant.


For more information and details on how to apply for this exciting opportunity contact Dr. John Murray (jomurray@lincoln.ac.uk)