A fruit picking robot scheme led by Saga Robotics in Lincoln will receive nearly £2.5 million as part of a new UK government funding initiative to drive efficiency in food production.
The ‘Robot Highways’ project aims to act as a catalyst for a sustainable farming industry in the future by maintaining or even boosting food production, counteracting labour shortages and limiting the environmental impact.
Innovate UK awarded the £2.5m funding to a group consisting of Saga Robotics, global leaders in robotics and autonomous systems (RAS), the University of Lincoln (Europe’s largest academic research centre on agri-robotics), University of Reading (knowledge exchange and economic evaluation specialists), Manufacturing Technology Centre Limited, Berry Gardens Growers, BT, and Clock House Farm Ltd.
By 2025, the consortium aims to deliver a fleet of robots that can carry out a host of farming operations as one, entirely powered by solar energy.
Initially focusing on soft fruit farming, the project is also targeting a 20% reduction in food wastage, a 90% drop in fungicide use and a significant drop in carbon emissions, all while increasing productivity by 15%.