New whitepaper explores the potential of robotics in global agriculture


Technological advances in robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) hold the potential to transform some of the greatest challenges facing the future of global agriculture, according to a white paper published by an N8 university professor.

N8 AgriFood’s Professor Bruce Grieve, of the University of Manchester, co-authored ‘Agricultural Robotics: The Future of Robotic Agriculture’ which was released during UK Robotics Week 2018.

The study was co-authored by Professor Grieve alongside Professor Simon Blackmore of Harper Adams University, and the University of Lincoln’s Professor Tom Duckett and Professor Simon Pearson.

It examines the current impact and challenges facing the future of global agriculture, as well as ethical considerations associated with the transformation of the agriculture industry.

The in-depth report spans the current trends and technological advances available to the industry, such as robotics and AI, as well as potential barriers to overcome.

The authors have outlined a basis for discussing the future technological roadmaps and recommendations for some of the challenges facing Agri-Tech as the industry makes technological advancements.

Prof Grieve said: “The recent commitment of a £90million investment by the government really underlines the fact that Agri-Tech is a burgeoning market.

“This white paper is a timely and important exploration of the use of robotics in this vital sector, which employs almost 4 million people and is larger than the automotive and aerospace sectors combined.

“Agri-Tech companies are already working closely with UK farmers, using robotics and AI to help create new technologies and bring forward new innovations, so this is a truly exciting time for the industry as we look to transform the challenges facing global agriculture into opportunities for innovation, investment and commercial growth.”

The N8 AgriFood Programme, part of the N8 Research Partnership, aims to maximise the impact of research expertise from the eight most research intensive universities in the North of England: Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York. Its purpose is to promote collaboration, establish innovative research capabilities and drive economic growth.

The full white paper, ‘Agricultural Robotics: The Future of Robotic Agriculture’, is available to read here.