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February 23, 2018

AgriTechnology Focus: USDA NIFA Update on Collaborative Robotics Research

See how advancements in agritechnology and robotics are getting a leg up from the USDA.

The worlds of agritech and robotics are coming together as both the ag industry and agritech developers are seeing the benefits of utilizing collaborative robotics in agriculture. This fast-developing relationship got a leg up with an announcement in early January concerning support for collaborate robotics development through the joint National Robotics Initiative. Read more about the support for agritech and robotics below.

Details of the Support for Agritech and Robotics Research

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the National Robotics Initiative (NRI-2.0) in early January. It represents a joint initiative between NIFA, the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, and Department of Energy. NRI-2.0 has four focus areas of research that are paramount to the advancement of collaborative robots: scalability, customizability, lowering barriers to entry, and societal impact.
The support comes in the form of funding for research into robotic science and technology to develop collaborative robots. The program is funded through grant money from the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, which, according to a USDA announcement, is tasked with addressing “challenges in food and agricultural sciences, through research, extension, and education.”

In agriculture, collaborative robotics include machines that help with the necessary tasks around a farm or ranch. They may harvest the crop, sort good produce from bad, deliver inputs, or fight pests. They generally answer a need in the agricultural industry, such as supplementing human pickers due to the high cost and difficulty of finding help during harvesting.

Grants totaling $7 million will be offered to eligible applicants, such as education entities, like colleges and universities and university research foundations; state organizations, such as state agricultural experiment stations; federal institutions, like federal agencies and national labs; and private organizations and corporations as well. Applicants are encouraged to collaborate across industry lines so there are connections and communication between researchers, developers, and end users.

There are two deadlines for accepting proposals: Feb. 20, 2018, and Feb. 5, 2019. Find the request for application here.

AgAmerica Lending recognizes the unique opportunities presented by the relationship between agritech and robotics. It’s our goal to assist those in the ag industry with our custom loan packages, and we support initiatives that help farmers and ranchers to grow and prosper. Contact us today to explore our ag loan products.

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