Dr. Robert Fitch
Dr Robert Fitch is a leading research scientist in the area of autonomous field robotics. He is interested in systems of outdoor robots and their application to key problems in agriculture and environmental monitoring.
Robert received the PhD in computer science from Dartmouth (USA) and worked as a Senior Research Fellow with the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) at The University of Sydney. He recently joined the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) as Associate Professor. Robert has led research in planning and collaborative decision-making for both ground and aerial robots in a variety of government and industry sponsored projects including those in broad-acre agriculture, horticulture, bird tracking, and commercial aviation.
Field robotics on the farm
Over the past several years there has been rapidly growing interest in the use of advanced automated machinery and software systems in agriculture. The farm of the future will likely involve a 'system of systems' where teams of relatively small robots and sensors work together to collect information and perform mechanical tasks. In this talk, I will present an overview of work in the development of robotics and intelligent systems for improving land and labour productivity of farms, and will provide examples from the broadacre agriculture, tree crop and vegetable industries. With better sensing, data analytics, and real-time control, robots will be able to collect vast amounts of precise information about the health and maturity of crops. This information, along with the automation of mechanical processes, will help to increase the efficiency of farming, leading to better yield and profitability. We will also start to see new capabilities such as variable rate planting and fertigation, minimal (if any) chemical usage, and selective harvesting. Through these advances, agricultural robotics has the potential to transform the way food is grown, produced, and delivered.