On 6-7 July 2022 VDI held its 3rd VDI international conference on Automation and Robotics in Agriculture in Dusseldorf, Germany. Chaired by Ole Green, Founder of Agrointelli, an innovative agricultural robotics company from Denmark, the event looked at the legal and technical aspects, market trends, farmers’ needs going from lack of labour to improving farm efficiency, and intelligence and precision of operations. It was a good networking event with rich exchanges among the expert audience.

CEMA, who is actively involved in developing harmonised technical requirements for agricultural automated and autonomous systems, briefed participants on the status of applicable legislation and standards. The presentation provided an overview on what is assumed (the Machinery Regulation is still under discussion with the three legal bodies of the EU) will become the essential requirements for automated and autonomous functions and machinery. It also was explained why industry has engaged in a revision of the ISO 18497, replacing in full the old version. The need was indeed detected for a standard that focusses on a much broader scope with stringency of measures not linked to the level of automation but to the risk assessment. In the end, a small full autonomous robot may have a different risk profile than a big machine even if the latter is only partly automated. With 4 new parts under discussion in ISO, the CEMA expert team now focusses on specific applications, starting with ‘soil working application’ and ‘application of Plant Protection Products’. In the presentation, CEMA provided further information on connected, cooperative, automated machinery with automated processes not only limited to driving and operating, but also on communication. This entails a complete list of new or upcoming legal requirements on areas like cybersecurity and data governance. The presentation was closed with a mention of the industry activities on agricultural interoperability networks, and how this will serve to achieve an agriculture of data, with data used for enhanced knowledge of farmers, but also for proof of compliance.