Lincoln robot research

by Anonymous Author

Robotics experts from Lincoln Agritech will be involved in a project looking at how humans and robots can work together.

Lincoln Agritech, which is owned by Lincoln University, will join researchers from universities around the country as part of a two-year, $2m project funded by the Science for Technological Innovation National Science Challenge Board to examine how next-generation robots can work with humans in a safe and flexible manner.

Lincoln Agritech Group Manager in Precision Agriculture, Dr Armin Werne said the programme is laying the groundwork for follow-up projects over the next few years that will focus on making New Zealand a competitive country for the production and use of robots in small-scale, flexible manufacturing businesses and challenging environments such as those found in agriculture and forestry.

“We will advance the science required for a new generation of industrial robotic solutions,” Dr Werner said. 

“These robots can provide enormous benefits to the primary and manufacturing sectors. Both industries require fast adaptation to different products and markets, and constant responsiveness to changing outdoor environments.

“The robots can assist with complex tasks such as pruning tree or vine crops, safely felling trees on steep slopes or assembling small batches of appliances on demand.”

To develop the technology, researchers will investigate how sensors and artificial intelligence can allow robots to perceive and understand their surroundings, flexibly handle new situations through learning or training by humans or other robots, and work in challenging environments.

“All the while, the robots will work collaboratively with humans, behaving safely around both people and animals,” Dr Werner said.

“The robots will be adaptable and create new solutions for the often small-scale and highly flexible production environment in New Zealand and many other comparable regions in the world.

“The targeted innovation represents a major shift from the notion of isolated robots solving single tasks.”

He said the technology is expected to help the country’s industries thrive globally and create an international hub for innovative robotics development.