Atos promotes use of robotics in agriculture by coordinating FlexiGroBots project

Atos has announced its participation in the European FlexiGroBots project as a coordinator and active member. FlexiGroBots wants to give robot manufacturers, engineers and service providers the means to build and deploy multi-robot systems for the food industry in order to assist farmers with their daily tasks. Financed by the Horizon 2020 program, the project will focus on the development of an innovative platform to facilitate the use of robotics, through three large-scale pilot projects in Europe.

The growing adoption of new technologies in the agricultural sector paves the way for “Agriculture 4.0”, where robotics, AI and automation occupy a predominant place. This new era should help simplify crop management and precision farming, thanks to real-time monitoring and better decision making, for example. However, the current robotic systems are built to perform very specific missions and are not capable of handling other tasks or cooperating with other robotic technologies, which limits investment return for farmers. 

The 36-month FlexiGroBots project aims to develop and validate an open platform to create multi-robot systems, including UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and UGVs (unmanned ground vehicles) that are flexible, heterogeneous, able to cooperate and be autonomous.

Atos’s research and innovation group acts as the FlexiGroBots coordinator, guaranteeing the execution of the planned activities as well as the overall monitoring and supervision of the project. Atos will help provide the architecture and requirements analysis, lead the reference architecture and synchronize the three pilot projects. The group acts as a technical leader and main contributor to the development of mission control center abilities for the design, planning and supervision of heterogeneous multi-robot operations, including robotic services made possible by computer vision techniques and geospatial data analysis.

As a member of the International Data Space Association (IDSA), Atos is also working on the development of data space enablers to manage data in an industrial data space adapted to agriculture, allowing for secure data exchange between the different actors of the food sector. 

“This project perfectly fits Atos’s ambition to contribute to the digitization of European industries, including the agricultural sector, by developing applications and innovative and secure services based on AI, data and robotics,” explains Daniel Calvo Alonso, coordinator of the FlexiGroBots project and head of the AI, data and robotics unit within the Atos Research and Innovation department.

The FlexiGroBots platform will be validated by three pilot projects:

- Vineyards (Spain): demonstrating the capabilities and versatility of robots to perform various tasks in the vineyards, contributing to the preservation and improvement of grape quality for wine production and overall economic profitability.

- Rapeseed fields (Finland): demonstrating the benefits of urgent pest control during critical periods and of the robotization of heavy machinery fleets in grassland management.

- Blueberry fields (Serbia and Lithuania): demonstrating the potential of innovative robotic solutions for blueberry crops, with advanced remote-sensing, deep-learning and decision support techniques.

Financed by the European Commission with 7 million euros [8.44 million USD], FlexiGroBots brings together a multidisciplinary consortium of 16 organizations and companies from 8 different countries.

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