As the prospect of autonomous farm vehicles moves closer to being an everyday reality, one of the most pressing concerns is to ensure that unmanned machines and drones will not pose a risk for farmers or to members of the public crossing land where they are being used.
During Farm Safety Week in July Agri-EPI Centre and HFF announced their initiative to identify new solutions for robotic farming safety.
The robotic safety hackathon invites innovators around the world to come up with solutions for some of the most pressing issues. Technologies will need to be developed to enable autonomous machinery to detect, monitor and identify people and animals in an operational field or farm, and to communicate information or safety advice. Other potential areas include systems to prevent collision or to enable human supervision, along with theft and tampering prevention and data security.
The event is open to any company or individual from any background, and the winning solution will be used and evaluated at the 35-hectare experimental HFF on the Harper Adams estate.
Agri-EPI Business Development Director Lisa Williams, said: “The benefits of autonomous farm machinery are many but as it becomes more commonplace, it’s essential that farm automation poses no threat to the public. We look forward to seeing the participants come up with some really innovative ideas.”
The Innovate UK-funded HFF is led by Precision Decisions, with partners Farmscan Ag, Harper Adams University and Agri-EPI Centre. Clive Blacker, Director of lead partner Precision Decisions, said: “Our 35ha plot includes footpaths and roads with public access. Safety and security of the operation of autonomous machinery is of paramount importance. Addressing this issue will be critical to implementing autonomous machinery and devices in real-world commercial farming settings in the future, and gaining regulatory, market and public acceptance of the technology.”
The hackathon will take place on 29th and 30th September. Registration closes on 31st August, and the list of teams selected to pitch will be announced on 3rd September. There will be workshops for shortlisted entrants on 21st and 23rd September. For full details and to submit an entry, go to hackathon.
To read about the work CHAP is involved in using autonomous machinery, go to SlugBot and SprayBot.
If you want to work with CHAP on a specific project, please email us using the enquiries form at the bottom of our homepage.