UK Robotics Week: Whitepapers on agri-tech and urban transport

27th June 2018
Lanna Cooper


Two brand new, in-depth whitepapers are now publicly available exploring the key robotics sectors of Agri-Tech and Urban Transport. The reports are being launched as part of UK Robotics Week 2018 - on now - and are available to download online.

The 'Agricultural Robotics: The Future of Robotic Agriculture' whitepaper provides an overview of the current impact and challenges facing Agri-Tech, as well as associated ethical considerations. The in-depth report spans the current trends and technological advances, as well as potential barriers to overcome in achieving the sector’s full potential.

The whitepaper includes clear recommendations for some of the challenges identified, and a basis for discussing the future technological roadmaps, and engaging the wider community, stakeholders and policy makers in assessing the potential social, economic, ethical and legal impact of RAS in agriculture.

Commenting on the launch, report author Professor Bruce Grieve of University of Manchester said: “The recent commitment of a £90m investment by the government really underlines the fact that Agri-Tech is a burgeoning market, so this whitepaper 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 'Urban Robotics and Automation: Critical Challenges, International  Experiments and Transferable Lessons for the UK' whitepaper offers a detailed analysis of the application of robotics and autonomous systems technology in supporting urban growth in the UK. The report discusses urban potential in various aspects of urban life, such as health care, construction and maintenance, as well exploring the transport and socio-economic impacts.

The paper also points to the distinctive ‘urban’ dimensions of RAS innovation - from laboratory to real world applications - and looks at how current and future challenges can be addressed. The paper concludes with key recommendations for addressing some of the acknowledged challenges, and provides a clear basis for shaping discussion of the future technological roadmaps, engaging the wider community, stakeholders and policy makers, and for assessing the wider implications of RAS in Urban Automation and Transport.

Commenting on the launch, report author Professor Simon Marvin of University of Sheffield said: “Cities are being automated at a steady pace and advances in urban automation and transport are continuously shaping our urban life and environment, so this whitepaper comes at a very interesting and key time in the technology progression. Good city governance and resource utilisation enables smooth flow of services, data, and people, and many cities are now becoming test beds - for both national and local governments - to experiment with robots in social spaces, and to explore their role in facilitating everyday life and good city governance.

"With connected and autonomous vehicles set to take another leap forward in the UK thanks to a series of recent government funding announcements, we will continue to see major industry shift towards automation, connectivity, shared mobility and the electrification of vehicles. This market disruption is changing the way the urban environment is organised, and in this paper we take a comprehensive look at the transformative effect this will have on the way people travel, especially in cities.

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