Winter 2018, Vol. 15, No. 2

Is agriculture ready for autonomy?

Autonomous and robotic applications are expanding rapidly into agriculture. From partial autonomy of complex machinery operations to fully autonomous monitoring and application using machine learning and artificial intelligence, new uses of technology for agriculture are emerging almost on a daily basis. Robotics and autonomous systems are not unique to agriculture, and indeed other sectors with more advanced autonomy are both pointing to potential uses of the technology while also providing signals about complexity of regulation and social acceptance.

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The Future of Autonomous Dairies

Nicolas Lyons and Cameron Clark

Dairying is an important contributor to Australian agriculture and a strong source of regional employment. However, it is also a time and resource-intensive industry. Within NSWDPI and the Dairy Science Group at the University of Sydney, there is a strong vision for a connected, autonomous and smart dairy industry, where everything can be measured, monitored and managed in order to optimise productivity and maximise profitability. In an ideal high-tech dairy industry, all participants in the supply chain should be able to ensure efficiency in both quantity and quality of milk production.
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FarmBeats: Automating Data Aggregation

Ranveer Chandra

Digital agriculture offers one of the most promising approaches to address the challenge of sustainably increasing food production by 70% by 2050 (from 2010 production levels). Using the latest advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the farmer can be empowered with predictions that can improve farm processes, from planning until harvest. Satellite data and remote sensing techniques can provide agricultural insights, by using advanced image processing algorithms and AI algorithms on multiple spectral bands in satellite imagery to estimate crop health. Buy now

Agricultural Robotics – What Can go Wrong?

Tristan Perez

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 considers examples of robotic applications and discusses the risks associated with their services in crop protection, nutrition, and harvesting. 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. Buy now

Legal Consequences of Autonomous Farming

Leanne Wiseman, Tina Cockburn and Jay Sanderson

With the increasing world population placing greater and greater pressure on food production, the issue of food security is high on the world agenda. In the search for strategies to address this looming crisis, attention is being drawn to the power of new digital and autonomous technologies to increase agricultural productivity. The aim of this paper is to highlight the potential legal consequences of the introduction of autonomous machines and technologies into Australian agriculture. As autonomous and robotic equipment use increases so too will the rate of incidents or accidents involving such autonomous and robotic equipment. Buy now

Cognitive Factors that Affect the Adoption of Autonomous Agriculture

S Kate Devitt

Robotic and Autonomous Agricultural Technologies (RAAT) are increasingly available yet may fail to be adopted. This paper focuses specifically on cognitive factors that affect adoption including: inability to generate trust, loss of farming knowledge and reduced social cognition. It is recommended that agriculture develops its own framework for the performance and safety of RAAT drawing on human factors research in aerospace engineering including human inputs (individual variance in knowledge, skills, abilities, preferences, needs and traits), trust, situational awareness and cognitive load. Buy now

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