6 September 2010

University of Queensland researchers will speak on the role of smart machines in the future of Australian farming at an industry event this week.

Dr Adam Postula and Dr Ben Upcroft, from the Faculty of Engineering Architecture and Information Technology will address farmers from throughout Queensland at the one-day Mechanisation Automation Robotics Remote Sensing (MARRS) in Horticulture workshop.

The workshop, being hosted by the Australian Unmanned Systems Academy and Horticulture Australia, will focus on opportunities available to Australian farmers through the introduction of robots and smart machines into their operations.

MARRS technologies are a series of new and emerging synergetic technologies, ranging from remote controlled aerial or terrestrial based “platforms” such as unmanned aircraft or unmanned tractors, to optical detection systems capable of observing their environment using visual, infra-red or laser light wavelengths.

The technologies are able to help farmers by detecting and communicating in real time variable environmental, field, and crop parameters such as moisture content, temperature and humidity.

Dr Postula’s research focuses on optimising unmanned aircraft by making them as stable and self-dependant as possible, enabling them to identify and avoid obstacles automatically.

Dr Upcroft’s research focuses on methods of processing visual information for the purpose of navigation and vehicle control.

Dr Postula said that unmanned aircraft will assist farmers in many practical ways.

“This developing technology will for example be able to scan and estimate the size of crops and the maturity of fruit, or determine the location of cattle.

“We expect that walking, moving, flying robots will be commonplace on Australian farms in the future,” Dr Postula said.

The MARRS in Horticulture workshop is being held Wednesday 8 September, 8:30am - 4pm, 174 Seminary Road, Marburg Queensland 4306.

People interested in attending the MARRS workshop should email Peter Hill at peterhill@v-tol.com.

Media contact: Dr Adam Postula at adam@itee.uq.edu.au or (07) 3365 3746 or Kim Jensen, Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology at k.jensen@uq.edu.au or (07) 3365 1107.