***

Context and background of agROBOfood EU project

European agriculture faces the challenge of supplying a constantly growing population with food, as well as with energy and renewable raw materials. Within the farming community, another challenge is the growing lack of skilled labour and the high cost of labour. In comparison to other sectors, agriculture is particularly distinguished by its responsibility towards society, the environment and nature, since production occurs in a natural setting and in harmony with natural processes. Additionally, European agriculture has to compete on a global market. Like other industries, agriculture must be economically successful, so as to be able to fulfil its objectives over the long term. For this reason, agriculture has always been characterised by sustainable management.

The partially or fully automated use of agricultural machinery and tractors serves primarily to increase the sustainability of agricultural processes. Social aspects (particularly the safety of operators and persons who are not directly involved in the work process), economic criteria (in the sense of optimisation of inputs and outputs), and the reduction of environmental impacts are to be assigned the highest priority in the development of automated agricultural machinery and tractors and use of robotic technologies in general. AgROBOfood, being a European Union’s Horizon 2020 project dedicated to accelerating the digital transformation of the European agri-food sector through the adoption of robotic technologies, fits perfectly into this scheme.

“Recognizing the relevance of application of robotic technologies from the perspective of our industry to propose new, more efficient, machines and tools for farming regarding environmental impact, climate change adaption, end customer request for better food and better work condition for farmers, I find the agROBOfood in line with these agricultural challenges”.

Jean-Michel Le Bars, KUHN - CEMA Project Team on Safety of autonomous functions member

Intermediate report: CEMA’s experts views

In the frame of agROBOfood communication for ecosystem building strategy, CEMA contributed with an official deliverable: Intermediate report on Liaison with agricultural machinery industry. The agROBOfood project has been brought to the attention of the CEMA High-Level Research Group, High-Level SMEs Group, and PT4 on Safety of autonomous functions. Based on their own company experiences, the CEMA experts provided feedback on the agROBOfood activities clearly supporting the engagement the agROBOfood project has set to enhance a solid relationship between farm equipment providers and farmers as agROBOfood final clients and most important stakeholder group.

“There is a great need of organizational and financial support to European SMEs to develop ambitious projects aimed at being incisive for the European agriculture. The agROBOfood project fully grasps this purpose by providing a method of aggregation not only between manufacturing companies, but also vertically towards agricultural producers by carrying out a double synergistic action of technical development aimed at real needs on the one hand and raising awareness of the use of smart farming technologies from other.”

Giampaolo Barbieri, Barbieri SRL - Chairman of the High-Level SMEs Group

Based on the information communicated by CEMA and feedback and recommendations collected from our experts, it can be concluded that the agricultural machinery industry under the umbrella of CEMA fully recognizes the additional value that agROBOfood brings for our industry and EU agriculture in general.

agROBOdfood confirmed as a key enabler for SMEs dealing with robotic technologies

CEMA experts fully support project implementation so far, stressing out the importance to grow the agROBOfood network further in order to provide support to European SMEs dealing with robotic technologies and enabling the end-user to uptake innovative robotic solutions. Open call instrument is the right tool to attract more robotic solutions, preferably near-market ready, to support the representatives of the Initial Innovation Experiments, but also to provide financial and technical support for the European SMEs.

“The agriculture is named as the most significant sector in the context of mobile service robotics (after defense), but did not develop as expected. It seems, that this process has started with some delay. The agROBOfood certainly contributes to this. The project has not only raised the awareness, but has also fostered the uptake of robotic technologies in some areas of agriculture. Thus, I find agROBOfood is good in line with the main project objectives.”

Thilo Steckel, CLAAS - High-Level Research Group member

CEMA, as project partner, continues to monitor all project activities and frequently updates its network on the latest accomplishments, asking industry experts for additional feedback and guidelines, particularly related to the next steps and in order to achieve the impact and ambitious Key Performance Indicators set in the Grant Agreement. The motivation of additional industry experts to become and stay actively engaged with the agROBOfood activities remains CEMA’s main task in the next 24 months.

agROBOfood is an European Union’s Horizon 2020 project dedicated to accelerate the digital transformation of the European agri-food sector through the adoption of robotic technologies. The aim of the project is to consolidate, extend and strengthen the current ecosystem by establishing a sustainable network of Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH), boosting the uptake of robotic solutions by the agri-food sector. The agROBOfood Consortium has 39 partners, led by Wageningen University & Research with the overall budget of € 16 658 044,75.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 825395EU flag