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NSF and USDA join forces in agricultural robotics research

The U.S. National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) are teaming up to advance foundational research in agricultural robotics. The agencies are issuing a new Dear Colleague Letter to solicit visionary research proposals to develop robots with the potential to revolutionize farming practices.

The collaboration stems from a shared recognition of the critical role that robotics can play in addressing challenges in agriculture and food production, such as increased demand for food and the need for precision agriculture practices. By leveraging resources from both agencies, NSF and USDA seek to foster interdisciplinary research that will tackle agricultural challenges and increase sustainability.

"This partnership represents a unique opportunity to harness the power of robotics to address pressing challenges in agriculture," said Michael Littman, director for the NSF Division of Information and Intelligent Systems. "By bringing together researchers from diverse backgrounds, we can unlock new insights and develop cutting-edge solutions that will benefit farmers and consumers alike."

Daniel Linzell, director of the NSF Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation added, "This new collaboration between NIFA and NSF underscores the value of our long-standing partnership and our commitment to foundational robotics research for the agriculture sector. Our joint investment and the community's ideas will not only make agriculture safer for the people who grow our food but also will lessen harmful impacts on the planet that sustains us."

Steven Thomson, National Program Leader with USDA NIFA, highlighted the importance of addressing agricultural challenges through innovative technologies. "Agricultural robotics holds tremendous promise for enhancing productivity, reducing environmental impact and improving the overall resilience of our food systems. Through this collaboration, we aim to catalyze breakthroughs that will benefit farmers, consumers and the environment."

Under the joint funding opportunity, proposals will be solicited to support research projects that align with the goals of both the NSF Foundational Research in Robotics program and USDA NIFA. Proposals submitted under this initiative will undergo rigorous evaluation by both agencies.


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