FIRA2024, the International Fair for Robotics in Agriculture

We’re back from FIRA24, the International Fair for Robotics in Agriculture, which was held in Toulouse, France, from February 6 to 8.

PixelFarming’s Robot One, a cutting-edge agricultural robot designed for smart farming.

After talking with farmers, tech enthusiasts, and industry leaders from around the world, here is a list of the main points we think are valuable to share:

  1. Precision Farming Technologies: in modern agriculture, sensors, autonomous guidance systems, and smart attachments are fundamental to address the scarcity of human operators and ensure seamless agricultural operations.
  2. Endurance and combustion engines: endurance currently requires combustion engines. It was impressive to watch AGROINTELLI driving back and forth for a whole day!Terrain impact: low impact on terrain is fundamental, and many large vehicles feature 2- or 4-steering wheel systems (e.g. Naïo Technologies and EXXACT Robotics).  Notably, YANMAR howcased a compact tracked vehicle with minimal terrain impact.
  3. Beyond GPS guidance: robot manufacturers are actively seeking novel software solutions. They aim to move beyond traditional GPS guidance and integrate software for fully autonomous operations.
  4. Uncoupling from GPS: the row-based guidance system presented by COBO caught our attention. It allows a tractor to navigate between vineyard rows using only a camera and AI software — uncoupled from GPS.
  5. Holistic Farm Solutions: farmers envision more than just robots. They seek complete systems that revolutionize agriculture. Trusting new approaches, they want integrated solutions that redefine how we farm.
  6. Safety: safety in robotic machinery for agriculture is still a personal interpretation. Different stakeholders intend different meanings. Does safety mean the presence of a LIDAR/RADAR onboard? Does a safe system require a specific certification? A shared awareness of the meaning of safety would be useful.
  7. Scaling Up: for vast cultivation fields (think tens of hectares or more), robotic machines must operate autonomously throughout the day. Speed and affordability are key to competing with human-driven tractors.

In summary, while there’s still work ahead for robot manufacturers, the strong presence of adopters at FIRA underscores the rising interest in these transformative technologies.

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