Automated machines growing the first arable crop remotely, without operators in the driving seats or agronomists on the ground.
The project aims to assess the feasibility of using open source GNSS autonomous navigation systems within field agriculture. The systems have been developed by the open source community and utilised within the small scale unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)/drone market, which has expanded rapidly in agriculture in the past four years. The project intends to adapt these systems for use in infield situations, integrating them into existing commercial farm machinery. These adapted machines will then be used to autonomously sow, grow, and harvest a cereal crop without a human entering the trial area ('hands free hectare'). If successful, it will be the first cereal crop to be grown and cropped remotely. The project is different from previous agricultural robotics projects because it is aiming to integrate and adapt tested autonomous technologies from their original purpose, rather than developing bespoke machinery and systems. A successful outcome will disprove the currently accepted opinion that agricultural autonomy on the field scale is unachievable, and as a consortium we have confidence in the capability of these low cost systems to radically change the approach to field agriculture in the UK.