Keynote speakers for the MCG 2016 Conference
Dr. Avital Bechar
Avital Bechar is a senior research scientist and the head of the department of production, growing and environmental engineering at the Institute of Agriculture Engineering (IAE), Agriculture Research Organization (ARO) in Israel.
Robots are perceptive machines that can be programmed to perform a variety of agricultural tasks, such as cultivating, transplanting, spraying, selective harvesting and etc. Agricultural robots have the potential to enhance the quality of fresh produce, lower production costs and reduce the drudgery of manual labor. However, in agriculture, the environment is highly unstructured. The terrain, vegetation, landscape, visibility, illumination and other atmospheric conditions are not well defined; they continuously vary, have inherent uncertainty and generate unpredictable and dynamic situations. Extensive research has been focused on development of agricultural robots to a variety of field operations and technical feasibility has been widely demonstrated. Autonomous robots in real-world unstructured environments still yield inadequate results, and the promise of automatic and efficient autonomous operations has fallen short of expectations in such environments. Despite the tremendous effort, very few are operational in agriculture production systems.
In order for robots to satisfactory perform in agricultural environments and execute agriculture tasks, several gaps need to be filled: poor detection performance, low cycle time, inappropriate decision-making and low action success rate. The research must focus on fusion of several complementary sensors to reach adequate localization and sensing abilities; develop simple manipulators performing the agricultural task description; develop path planning, navigation and guidance algorithms; and, integrate human operators in cases of complex and highly dynamic situation.
New concepts and approaches for the operation of agricultural robots and its implementation will be presented and the R&D activity conducted at the agricultural robotics lab (ARL) will be reviewed including five case studies of development of autonomous and human-robot collaborative systems that involve control and guidance in unstructured environments: 1) an autonomous robot for disease monitoring – the system was developed based on a holistic approach integrating the design of both motion and perception; 2) a spraying robot for greenhouse specialty crops – an adaptive algorithm for navigation of a robotic sprayer in pepper greenhouses was developed, implemented and tested on an experimental robot and on a prototype of a robotic sprayer based and retrained from a commercial sprayer; 3) a human-robot melon collector; 4) a robotic sonar for yield assessment and plant status evaluation and, 5) an advanced human-robot collaborative system for selective tree pruning.
Prof. Dionysis Bochtis
Prof. Dionysis D. Bochtis is a Professor Chair in Agri-Robotics in the Institute of Agri-Food Technologies, School of Sciences, at the University of Lincoln, UK, and a Senior Scientist in the Department of Engineering of Faculty of Science and Technology at Aarhus University, Denmark. He holds a PhD in Fleet management in bio-production systems, a MSc in Automation Control in Agriculture, and a B.Sc. in Exact Sciences (Physics). His primary research is industrial engineering focused on bio-production and related provision systems including activities related to field robots (high level control aspects: mission planning, path planning, task allocation, etc.), fleet management (for conventional and autonomous field machinery), supply chain management for bio-energy bio-recourses, and Decision Support Systems development. He has participated (as researcher, WP leader, partner responsible, and coordinator) in 19 EU funded projects. He is the author of more than 200 articles in peer reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and has presented 12 key-note speeches around Europe on Systems Engineering topics. He is vice-chair of CIGR (International Commission of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineers), Section V (Systems management) and he was the presented of CIOSTA for the period 2011-2013 (Commission Internationale de l'Organisation Scientifique du Travail en Agriculture, Founded in Paris, 1950).
Robotic applications have outgrown the structured industrial environments and moved also to semi-structured environments, such as hospitals, storage facilities, urban transportation, and agricultural environments. These environments require robots with advanced capabilities for planning and executing the dedicated missions. Especially agriculture, where biological entities are involved, provides a highly challenging operation environment for robotic applications that is non-static, non-certain, and not known in advance.
This speech provides of overview of the recent advances on planning aspects for mobile robotics in bio-production systems, i.e. motion and route planning, multiple-units coordination, task assignment, action planning, and mission planning, and how these developments are related to the navigation, perception, and cognition capabilities of the specific mobile robots and the available technical solutions.
Finally, the envisioned short- and mid-term future of mobile robotics in bio-production are presented alongside with the missing links, in terms of high level control and inter-connectivity of the sensing-cognition-planning modules, for a fully deployment of autonomous vehicles in arable and high value crops production systems.