Frontiers of Robotics Research – Seminar Series

Speaker: Halvard Grimstad, Saga Robotics Ltd.

Time and Place: Thursday 28 February 2019, 13:00-14:00 in INB1102.

Title: Agricultural robots – the future of agriculture

Abstract: The population of the world is projected to reach almost 10 billion by 2050. To be able to feed everyone, we must increase food production by at least 50%. This must be achieved by a sector already responsible for a quarter of the global greenhouse gas emissions, in a world where farming practices have degraded much of the soil, and the availability of labour is decreasing.  Modern agriculture is faced with many challenges, and there is a need for new and better technologies to help minimise inputs and maximise yields. Many believe that robots will play a major role in the future of farming, as it is expected that robots will be able to solve many of the problems that farmers currently are faced with. However, there are many challenges to overcome before robots can become useful tools for farmers on a large scale. One challenge is the great diversity found in the agricultural domain.

No two farms are alike, and the variation found in infrastructure, production systems and crops means that it is difficult to create one-size-fits-all robotic solutions. Modular, mobile robots, when done right, introduce a great deal of flexibility, as it allows for site-specific robots to be created. This is especially advantageous for researchers who need to move research from the lab to the farm.

This presentation will focus on the agricultural platform Thorvald and how Saga Robotics and their collaborators have chosen to approach the challenges facing the agricultural sector.

Halvard’s Bio:

Halvard Grimstad works as a mechanical engineer for Saga Robotics and is the Chief Operating Officer of the UK office. Halvard graduated from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in 2016 with a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering working with industrial machine design and bioreactors. Currently, Halvard mostly works on the mechanical design of different tools for the agricultural robot Thorvald as well as on the continuous design improvements of the Thorvald platform itself. He is involved in many collaborative projects where the Thorvald platform is being used in the UK. These projects include the development of robotic strawberry picker, autonomous weeding, in-field logistics, soil compaction and moisture sensing and more. He has been featured recently in “This is Engineering”  video commissioned by the Royal Academy of Engineering to encourage young talent into the Engineering profession.

Related Reading:

  • Grimstad, L. and From, P. J., The Thorvald II Agricultural Robotic System, Robotics 2017, 6(4), 24.
  • From, P. J. and Grimstad, L. and Hanheide, M. and Pearson, S. and Cielniak, G. (2018) RASberry – Robotic and Autonomous Systems for Berry Production. Mechanical Engineering Magazine Select Articles, 140 (6).