Robot competition takes to the Peak District skies

Teams of students and early career researchers demonstrated the latest in robotic technologies during a competition in the Peak District, Sheffield as part of UK Robotics Week.

studentsStudents from across the UK, Europe and Israel joined forces to tackle agriculture-themed challenges, including aerial crop surveys and fruit-picking, during the two-day event.

They developed software to control, as well as collect and process data from air and ground robots, and competed for almost £1,900 in prizes.

The Field Robotics Challenge 2016 was hosted by Sheffield Robotics and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network (ESPRC UK-RAS) as part of UK Robotics Week, (25 June - 1 July 2016).

Field robotics describes the application of robots to unstructured or dynamic environments, such as in agriculture, mining, space, and search and rescue.

robotics compThe competition took place on Sunday 26 and Monday 27 June 2016 at the University’s Department of Geography’s High Bradfield Environmental Centre at High Bradfield, Sheffield, part of the Peak District National Park.
Professor Noel Sharkey, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence expert and BBC Robot Wars judge, and Dr Charles Fox, of IBEX Automation Ltd, judged the competition.

Dr James Law, the challenge organiser at the University of Sheffield, said: “Robots have the potential to address major societal challenges. In agriculture, robots are being developed for precision farming, to improve efficiency and reduce the use of pesticides.

“This competition provided an excellent opportunity for young researchers in this emerging area to work with air and ground robots in a real-world challenging environment.”

The event was held in Sheffield immediately before the TAROS (Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems) conference, being held on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 28 and 29, where researchers will discuss the results and methods in autonomous robotics research and applications.

Sheffield Robotics is an interdisciplinary research institute with members in both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University.