As recently announced, PaleBlue was awarded funding within a EU-funded Horizon 2020 project. The project will span from 2021 to 2024, involve 10 organizations, and will develop precision farming robots for harvesting table grapes in the field.
The project is named Canopies, and is led by Università degli Studi Roma Tre in Italy. It entails developing robotic, sensor, farming, and VR components by the project consortium members, that are located around Europe. The name Canopies stands for Collaborative Paradigm for Human Workers and Multi-Robot Teams in Precision Agriculture Systems.
The main objectives of Canopies project are:
- develop novel human-robot interactions
- develop human-robot collaboration
- develop multi-robot coordination
- implement an effective collaborative paradigm between human workers and multi-robot teams
- validate precision farming of permanent crops in the context of the table-grape vineyards
Watch Andrea Gasparri, the Coordinator of the Canopies consortium, present the project in two minutes:
The robots will be sensing and interacting with the environment and with each other. The operations will also include human operators as they will assist the robots and guide them.
PaleBlue has been invited to join the consortium in 2020, as the company possesses cutting-edge expertise in building 3D and VR tools for human and robotic users.
In this project, PaleBlue will develop 3D and VR tools to model the vineyard as well as the robotic and human actors within. This model will then be used to develop and validate robots in a simulated space, before these robots are tested out in the field. This virtual validation approach is widely used in the industry, and PaleBlue opens for this validation and development to be used in the Canopies project.
In this approach, robots are oblivious to the fact that they are immersed in the virtual world, reading data from sensors, and spinning their motors – this allows performing development and validation much faster than in the traditional approach: building robots in steel, taking them to the test site, and only then getting the results.
PaleBlue is building a system with a physical engine that is interacting with robots through ROS, or Robotic Operating System.
What makes this project special is that the robots will collaborate with humans. To achieve this, PaleBlue will connect robotic actors in the simulated environment with the human users wearing VR headsets. This will allow for multi-agent modeling of complex operations in the virtual world.
Felix Gorbatsevich, the Managing Director at PaleBlue, says: “The global trend for robotisation in agriculture is getting clear support from the businesses and governments, as proven with this project supported by the EU. We are thrilled to be a part of this development, contributing to safe, automated, and more efficient farming.”
The Canopies project web portal is available at https://www.canopies-project.eu/, and will feature regular updates on the progress of the project from the participating organizations.
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