Government backs robot farmers with £6m
Funding will support what is claimed to be the world’s first agri-robotics facility
The government has put funding of £6.3m into exploring the potential of “farming robots”.
The money, which has been awarded to the University of Lincoln, will support the creation of what is claimed to be “the world’s first centre of excellence in agri-robotics”. The new facility “will look at how robots can tend, harvest and quality control high-value crops with minimum human intervention”.
The university is one of 13 institutions to have been given a cumulative total of £76m in government cash via the Expanding Excellence in England Fund. The money will support a variety of research projects dedicated to examining how science and technology could help fulfil the goals of the government’s Industrial Strategy.
Aston University has been given £5.4m to examine the use of “forensic speech science” in the legal system, while the Centre for Enzyme Innovation at Portsmouth University will receive £5.8m.
The Open University has been given £6.7m to support the study of space exploration and extraterrestrial environments, the University of Greenwich has secured £7.5m to examine food, nutrition, and agriculture in the developing world, and Loughborough University’s work to improve the teaching of maths has been backed by £6.6m.
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The University of Lancaster is to receive £7.6m to investigate how academia, government policy, and wider society can best work together “to address challenges of tomorrow and create new products and services”.
Sheffield Hallam University will look at how technology can support older people to “live longer and more productive lives”, while the University of Newcastle is to explore sustainable buildings. The institutions have respectively received £4m and £8m.
The University of the West of England’s work to explore the 3D printing of “prototypes of ancient artefacts” will be given £7.7m, while the University of Surrey will be backed with £3.6m to examine the use of automation in translation.
The penultimate institution to receive money is the Royal Northern College of Music, which is being funded to the tune of £914,000 to explore the use of artificial intelligence and big data in live music. The University of Exeter is also to work with AI and data science in its research on the role of technology for people with diabetes. This work will be backed by £6m in government cash.
Universities and science minister Chris Skidmore said: “Pushing the boundaries of knowledge and conquering new innovations are what our universities are known for the world over. The Expanding Excellence in England Fund will support projects throughout England to master new and developing areas of research and industry. Made possible through our record R&D spend delivered by our modern Industrial Strategy, the investment will support researchers to develop solutions and opportunities for UK researchers and businesses.”
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