Robot Highways

Lead Participant: Saga Robotics Limited

Abstract

Our vision for future soft fruit farming encompasses fleets of electric robotic and autonomous systems powered by renewable energy that pick, transport, pack fruit whilst gathering data to maximise yield, reduce waste and environmental impacts. Additionally, these technologies underpin industry sustainability by reducing sector reliance on low skilled labour, whilst upskilling the existing workforce. This vision can be delivered by 2025\. However, it's critical the underpinning technologies are demonstrated at scale. This secures a significant KE platform to empower transformation across UK and global supply chains.

Our project synthesises and demonstrates the outputs of multiple Innovate UK, Saga Robotics, University of Lincoln, Berry Garden Growers, H2020, UKRI-BBSRC, EPSRC and Research England funded research and innovation projects. It will be the largest known global demonstration of robotic and autonomous (RAS) technologies that fuse multiple application technologies (8) across a single farming system. These will drive resource (carbon, pesticide, water, waste) and labour (fruit picking, handling and logistics) productivity whilst underpinning the transition of one of UK's most vibrant agri food sectors (soft fruit) towards a carbon zero future. Robots will be deployed to optimise physical farm processes, in particular to transport and pick fruit, pack fruit , treat crops to reduce critical pests and diseases (UVC to eliminate powdery mildew / insect pests) and optimise spray use. In addition, they will control the virtual farm by collecting data to monitor crop and fruit growth. Data will be analysed using AI and machine learning technologies, pre-developed at Lincoln, to forecast fruit supply and optimise farm productivity. New insights will be gained in the application of robotic systems across large commercial farming systems, in particular fleet control, charging and logistics operations, optimisation of data processing resources (edge / cloud) and the telecommunications infra- structure required to dispatch large volumes of data. Target deliverables:

1\. Elimination of fossil fuel across all farm logistic operations.

2\. 90% reduction in fungicide use (by UVC) and intrinsic carbon cost.

3\. 30% reduction in packhouse labour,40% reduction in farm labour (plus intrinsic carbon costs associated with people movement etc).

4\. 15% increase in farm productivity (yield per m2) and intrinsic carbon gain.

5\. 20% reduction fruit waste, through accurate forecasting.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Saga Robotics Limited £1,699,455 £ 1,189,618
 

Participant

Clock HouSE Farm Limited £255,641 £ 153,385
British Telecommunications Public Limited Company, London £262,036 £ 131,018
Unknown, United Kingdom
University of Lincoln £452,964 £ 452,964
Berry Gardens Growers Limited, Tonbridge, UNITED KINGDOM £19,445 £ 9,722
University of Reading, United Kingdom £253,071 £ 253,071

Publications

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