A new mobile robot at the University of Lincoln could help reshape a more efficient and sustainable agri-food industry.
The Thorvald agricultural robot will aid scientists at the university with agri-tech experiments at its Riseholme Campus off the A15 near Lincoln and was developed with scientists from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
The robotic platform has been built to perform a wide variety of agricultural tasks, including deployment as a multi-purpose light weight robotic carrying platform, as a sensor platform to monitor crops and soils and, potentially, as a platform to manage crops and for precision weed control.
It is capable of operating on uneven terrain and agile enough to navigate between rows of crops without touching plants.
Earlier this year the University of Lincoln, through the Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology (LIAT), secured research grants worth more than £2.6 million to deliver three out of the 24 projects funded through the latest round of the UK Government’s Agri-Tech Catalyst.
The Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology aims to support and enhance productivity in the UK’s agri-food sectors by bringing together multi-disciplinary teams from across the University of Lincoln, including specialists in food manufacturing, agri-robotics, agronomy and life sciences.
Its research focuses on the development of technologies to improve efficiency, sustainability and reduce waste throughout the food pipeline, from farm to retailer.
Professor Simon Pearson, Director of Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology (LIAT), said: “The Thorvald robot will be a welcome addition to LIAT – in effect our own roaming, robotic lab assistant – capable of supporting a wide variety of research activities.
“The robot will support research on autonomous outdoor navigation and mapping, soil quality assessment, crop yield prediction, in-field logistics and transportation.