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World’s first Centre for Doctoral Training in agri-food robotics

The world’s first Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) for agri-food robotics is being established by the University of Lincoln, UK, in conjunction with the Universities of Cambridge and East Anglia[9]. The CDT has received a funding award of £6.6m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which will create the largest ever cohort of Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) specialists for the global food and farming sectors.

The universities will collaborate with the Manufacturing Technology Centre, which is supported by leading industrial partners and stakeholders from across the food, farming and robotics industries, including John Deere, Syngenta, G’s Growers, Beeswax Dyson, ABB and the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board.

The CDT will provide funding and training for at least 50 doctoral students, who will be supported by major industry partners and specialise in areas, such as autonomous mobility in challenging environments, the harvesting of agricultural crops, soft robotics for handling delicate food products and ‘co-bots’ for maintaining safe human-robot collaboration and interaction in farms and factories. The students will follow a common foundational year, studying on the new MSc Robotics and Autonomous Systems at Lincoln. Then 20 of the students will carry out their PhD studies at Lincoln, 20 at Cambridge and 10 at UEA. The wide-scale engagement with industry will enable the students’ research to be directed towards real-world applications in the agri-food industry. The new centre will be a focal point for robotics innovation in the UK.

The new Centre Director, Professor Tom Duckett, Professor of Robotics and Autonomous Systems at Lincoln, explains that automation and robotics technologies are set to transform global industries and are expected to add £183bn to the UK economy over the next decade.



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