Posted 3 July 2017
"It was encouraging to see teams entering for the first time, for example from Mexico, doing well and really competing against the Europeans."
The International Field Robot Event (FRE) was held in the UK – and indoors – for the first time in 2017, at Harper Adams University.
The FRE has been held annually since 2003 when it was founded in the Netherlands. This year 14 teams from countries including the UK , Netherlands, Mexico, Slovenia and Finland battled in the university’s Soil Hall, an indoor field.
But it was Germany who reigned supreme, with three different German institutions claiming first, second and third overall.
Kamaro Engineering team seized victory in the FRE for Karlsruher Institute for Technology, from Karlsruhe, south of Frankfurt, scoring 106 out of a total 120 points.
Stuttgart’s School for Research ‘Carbonite’ team placed second despite having some of the youngest team members, including a 13-year-old boy who gave a presentation to fellow competitors – in English – explaining the mechanics of the Carbonite robot, for which he was congratulated by Harper Adams senior lecturer Sam Wane.
In third was the Floribot team from Heilbronn University, who were only two points behind the Carbonite robot and won the Basic Navigation task.
Parmjit Chima, Head of Engineering at Harper Adams University, said the aim of the competition was to develop “advanced robotic skills”. Although there were some withdrawals, malfunctions, and maize-plant mangling, the team’s performances were “absolutely fantastic”, in the opinion of Harper Adams University’s senior lecturer Sam Wane.
He said: “A few of the teams strode ahead in the early stages, but it was encouraging to see teams entering for the first time, for example from Mexico, doing well and really competing against the Europeans. Some of the competitors entered the competition as part of their courses and were being assessed on their work, others entered for fun, but will still benefit because it will open doors for them in the future.
“Harper Adams offered to host the event this year to put ourselves on the map and show that you can study and develop agricultural robotics in the UK. We chose to make it an indoor event this year because we can’t really predict the British weather and because we have the Soil Hall here, which isn’t something other host institutions could offer.
“We put up lighting gantries and continually cared for the plants, which were grown outside, to keep the conditions as close as possible to those of previous events. The change from outdoor competition didn’t seem to put anyone off!”
The robots were tested on a variety of skills such as autonomy, ground clearance, navigation, and destruction of harvest.
Watch the BBC’s report on the event.
Field Robot Event, June 2017
• TAFR Team, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
• Floribot 2017, Heilbronn University, Germany
• Cornholio, Hochschule Osnabrück, Germany
• Team UniCorn, Aalto University, Finland
• FREDT, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany
• Feldschmiede, University of Hohenheim, Germany
• Robatic Group, Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands
• On a shoestring budget, Fontys University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands
• Fontys Venlo, Fontys University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands
• SKALP, Gdansk University of Technology, Poland
• UACH –Dimabot17, Universidad Autónoma Chapingo, Mexico
• Kamaro Engineering, Karlsruher Institute of Technology, Germany
• Moops, Harper Adams University, UK
• Carbonite, Schulerforschungszentrum (SFZ) Sudwurttemberg, Germany
Event sponsored by: CLAAS Stiftung, Yara, EurAgEng and Syngenta