Small Robot Company has won a TechAward from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC) for helping farms increase yields and profits. The new technology involves robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which improve the way that food is produced.
The award includes a Â£50,000 research fund that will help the company develop âHarryâ, the precision drilling and planting robot, from the concept phase through to the in-field prototype. The development of Harryâs punch planting mechanism will be supported by the Manufacturing Technology Centre, one of seven centres of excellence which make up the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVM Catapult).
âIt is a great honour to receive such a highly-regarded industry award. Such prestigious recognition of the work weâre doing to transform farming is game-changing,â said Ben Scott-Robinson, co-founder and experienced entrepreneur. âThe MTCâs expertise and development help will be invaluable to get our robots to market. We can now get them working on real farms at scale this growing season. This puts us at the vanguard for future farming.â
The technology behind Harry is based on Professor Simon Blackmoreâs robotics research, which now has the potential to help farms increase yields and profits, while substantially reducing the use of chemicals. Harry will accurately place seeds individually in the ground at a uniform depth to within 2 cm accuracy, creating a plant level map showing the location of each seed. A commercial trial is anticipated for October 2018.
âFeeding an estimated extra 2.2 billion people living on planet earth by 2050 is going to be one of the biggest challenges we face in the future,â said Alan Howard, the IETâs Design and Manufacturing Lead. âThis brilliant idea from Small Robot Company, with its ingenious application of robotics and automation technologies, could provide a vital and secure source of food to help feed the world.â