Workforce robots on the horizon

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Workforce robots on the horizon

27/11/2017 9:00:00 a.m.


A two-year, $2m project funded by the Science for Technological Innovation National Science Challenge Board is examining how next-generation robots can work with humans in a safe and flexible manner.
 
Researchers will focus on developing robots to work in small-scale manufacturing and unforgiving outdoor environments.
 
Such technology could become a global specialty of New Zealand robotics businesses, with great export opportunities and long-term solutions for the country’s economic needs.
 
The interdisciplinary research programme involves robotics experts from Lincoln Agritech and Scion, as well as researchers and PhD students from the universities of Auckland, Canterbury, Massey, Otago, Victoria and Waikato.
 
The programme is laying the groundwork for follow-up projects over the next few years that will focus on making New Zealand a competitive country for the production and use of robots in small-scale, flexible manufacturing businesses and challenging environments such as those found in agriculture and forestry.
 
“We will advance the science required for a new generation of industrial robotic solutions,” says Lincoln Agritech Group Manager in Precision Agriculture, Dr Armin Werner.
 
“These robots can provide enormous benefits to the primary and manufacturing sectors. Both industries require fast adaptation to different products and markets, and constant responsiveness to changing outdoor environments.
 
“The robots can assist with complex tasks such as pruning tree or vine crops, safely felling trees on steep slopes or assembling small batches of appliances on demand.” 
 
To develop the technology, researchers will investigate how sensors and artificial intelligence can allow robots to perceive and understand their surroundings, flexibly handle new situations through learning or training by humans or other robots, and work in challenging environments.
 
All the while, the robots will work collaboratively with humans, behaving safely around both people and animals.
 
“The robots will be adaptable and create new solutions for the often small-scale and highly flexible production environment in New Zealand and many other comparable regions in the world,” says Dr Werner. “The targeted innovation represents a major shift from the notion of isolated robots solving single tasks.”
 
The technology is expected to help the country’s industries thrive globally and create an international hub for innovative robotics development. 
 
To ensure industry-informed science, project coordinators Dr Werner, Associate Professor Will Browne of Victoria University of Wellington, and Associate Professor Johan Potgieter of Massey University, will work closely with an industry advisory group that includes robot manufacturers, food and manufacturing industries, Māori businesses and Government funding agencies.
Primary sector and manufacturing employees may find themselves with some interesting new colleagues in the next few years as researchers develop robots that can be trained to work alongside people in factories and the great outdoors.
ADDMAJ - Lincoln Bachelor Degree Additional Majors
BAFM - Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing
BAG - Bachelor of Agriculture
BAGSCI - Bachelor of Agricultural Science
BCom - Bachelor of Commerce
bcomag - Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture)
BComAgPACC - Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture and Professional Accounting)
BEM - Bachelor of Environmental Management
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dipcom - Diploma in Commerce
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GDApplSc - Graduate Diploma in Applied Science
GDBS - Graduate Diploma in Business and Sustainability
GDCom - Graduate Diploma in Commerce
GDLS - Graduate Diploma in Landscape Studies
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GDRM - Graduate Diploma in Recreation Management
GDRS - Graduate Diploma in Resource Studies
GDTourMgt - Graduate Diploma in Tourism Management
GDVO - Graduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology
GradDipVal - Graduate Diploma in Valuation
BAgrScHons - Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours
BCom(H) - Bachelor of Commerce with Honours
BEM(Hons) - Bachelor of Environmental Management with Honours
BEPPHons - Bachelor of Environmental Policy and Planning with Honours
BES (Hons) - Bachelor of Environment and Society with Honours
BLA(H) - Bachelor of Landscape Architecture with Honours
BSc(H) - Bachelor of Science with Honours
BSRM(Hons) - Bachelor of Sport and Recreation Management with Honours
BTM(Hons) - Bachelor of Tourism Management with Honours
BVO(Hons) - Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology (Honours)
PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
PCApplSc - Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Science
PCCom - Postgraduate Certificate in Commerce
PCEnvMgmt - Postgraduate Certificate in Environmental Management
PCIRD - Postgraduate Certificate in International Rural Development
PCLAS - Postgraduate Certificate in Land and Society
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PCPRT - Postgraduate Certificate in Parks, Recreation and Tourism
PDAgSc - Postgraduate Diploma in Agricultural Science
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PDCom - Postgraduate Diploma in Commerce
PDEnvMgmt - Postgraduate Diploma in Environmental Management
PDHortSc - Postgraduate Diploma in Horticultural Science
PDIRD - Postgraduate Diploma in International Rural Development
PDLAS - Postgraduate Diploma in Land and Society
PDLS - Postgraduate Diploma in Landscape Studies
PDPRT - Postgraduate Diploma in Parks, Recreation and Tourism
PDWRM - Postgraduate Diploma in Water Resource Management
PGDip (DRR) - Postgraduate Diploma in Disaster Risk and Resilience
MAgrSc - Master of Agricultural Science
MAppSc - Master of Applied Science
MCM - Master of Commerce and Management
MCm(A) - Master of Commerce (Agricultural)
MHSc - Master of Horticultural Science
MLA Research - Master of Landscape Architecture (Research)
MNRMEE - Master of Natural Resources Management and Ecological Engineering
MSc - Master of Science
MWRM - Master of Water Resource Management
mbusfinance - Master of Business (Finance)
MBusGMM - Master of Business (Global Management and Marketing)
MDDR - Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience
MEPM - Master of Environmental Policy and Management
MIRD - Master of International Rural Development
MLA Taught - Master of Landscape Architecture (Taught)
MMgmtAgrib - Master of Management in Agribusiness
MMgtAgrSys - Master of Management in Agricultural Systems
MPA - Master of Professional Accounting (CPA)
MPlan - Master of Planning
MScFI - Master of Science in Food Innovation
MSRM - Master of Sport and Recreation Management
MTM - Master of Tourism Management
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