University of Lincoln is already spearheading the development of next generation robots for agri-food production which will help streamline and maximise processes throughout the entire food industry, from farm to fork. This new funding, from the UK Government’s Expanding Excellence in England (E3) Fund through Research England, will enable its researchers to scale up their work tackling pressing issues facing the global food chain.
Research at Lincoln Agri-Robotics, the new research centre, will focus on autonomous agri-robots that can efficiently tend, harvest and quality-control high-value crops with reduced human intervention, improving agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability, and addressing the demands of a growing population.
The £6.4million grant will enable the University to develop a state-of-the-art digital infrastructure, create specialist RAAI facilities and strengthen its pool of world-leading robotics researchers by bringing a number of new academic experts to the institution.
Professor Andrew Hunter, Lincoln’s Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, said: “Agri-food is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK – twice the scale of automotive and aerospace combined – supporting a food chain which generates a Global Value Added (GVA) of £113bn, with 3.9m employees in a truly international industry.
“It is widely agreed that robotics will transform the food and farming industries in the coming years, as producers adapt to meet significantly increased global demand, but there is still so much research and development to be done. The creation of Lincoln Agri-Robotics is therefore extremely timely and positions Lincolnshire, and the UK, at the leading edge of research innovations in this truly global industry. RAAI technologies will facilitate a step change in agricultural productivity while reducing environmental impact, and this new centre of excellence will be at the forefront of that change.”
Universities and Science Minister Chris Skidmore said: “Pushing the boundaries of knowledge and conquering new innovations are what our universities are known for the world over. This programme led by the University of Lincoln will give the UK another world first in Lincoln’s centre for research into farming robotics.