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2018 Winter - Is agriculture ready for autonomy?

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FPJ1502D - Perez, T (2018), Agricultural Robotics – What Can Go Wrong?

FPJ1502D - Perez, T (2018), Agricultural Robotics – What Can Go Wrong?, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 15, no. 2, Winter 2018, pp. 17-34, Surry Hills, Australia.

The introduction of autonomous systems, such as robots, in agriculture offers significant opportunities to the sector regarding potential increases in productivity and profitability whilst ensuring sustainability. However, it also poses challenges. This article focuses on aspects of risk about agricultural robot operations for cropping applications. We consider examples of robotic applications and discuss the risks associated with their services in crop protection, nutrition, and harvesting. We then discuss how these risks can be mitigated not only by robot design but also by the understanding of the limitations of the technology through assessment safety and performance metrics and their uncertainty quantification. The latter can inform decisions of regulatory agencies, insurance companies, and end users. Finally, we discuss challenges that robotics and autonomous systems may pose to current legislation and regulation.



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