Source: NICOLA BELL, The Weekly Times

THE first horticultural robotics hub in Australia was officially opened in Sydney today. The Horticulture Innovation Centre for Robotics and Intelligent Systems, located at the University of Sydney, will initially host $10 million worth of projects in robotics and autonomous technology.

Horticulture Innovation Australia chief executive John Lloyd said the new centre aimed to increase farm efficiencies by minimising labour costs and preparing for the future. Through work completed so far, Mr Lloyd said they had developed technology that can detect foreign matter and robots that have autonomous weed identification and eradication capabilities.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, officially opened the centre. Ms Ruston said the centre would support the horticulture industry in defining and monitoring its strategic objectives around robotics and related technologies, and provide opportunities to interact with other agricultural industries interested in robotics.

“We see the future of Australian agriculture is about being smarter, as we are never going to be the cheapest producers,” she said. The centre will support three large projects, which are multi-scale monitoring tools for managing Australian tree crops, evaluating and testing autonomous systems developed in Australian vegetable production systems, and using autonomous systems to guide vegetable decision making on-farm.