The AgriFoRwArdS CDT students have been taking part in various associated training sessions throughout the last few months, with more to come.
Leadership and Management
Students, from both Cohort 1 and Cohort 2, are currently undertaking a Leadership and Management Level 3 course. The training is designed to help them develop to become effective and confident leaders; to secure better relationships and communication in teams; and provide students with the tools to develop their own skills and abilities. This training has been facilitated by the National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM) and is taking place at the University of Lincoln’s Brayford Campus. The first two sessions, which took place on the 9th and 10th June 2021, were the first face-to-face associated training sessions attend by the students. Student feedback was that it was a wonderful opportunity to finally get to spend some time together as a group. The final two sessions of this course will take place on 15th and 16th July.
NCFM facilitated ILM Level 3 training for the AgriFoRwArdS CDT students
Introduction to Agriculture; opportunities and challenges
Cohort 1 students attended the University of Lincoln’s Riseholme Campus, in November 2019, for a two-day workshop entitled ‘Introduction to Agriculture’. Due to the coronavirus Cohort 2’s attendance at this workshop was delayed. However, they finally had the opportunity to attend the sessions, which covered soils, weeds, crops and rotation and environment, in June of this year. The course was designed to introduce the students to the role of current technologies in agriculture, as well as some key challenges and opportunities, focusing on arable farming in the East Midlands. Students advised that they enjoyed the chance to be outdoors and get involved in practical work.
Four sessions took place over 2 days and gave the students another opportunity to experience face-to-face teaching, as well as spending time together as a cohort.
We would like to thank CDT Supervisors, Dr Oorbessy Gaju, Dr Iain Gould, and Isobel Wright and LIAT's Simon Goodger for their fantastic teaching during what was the first face-to-face teaching session for the Riseholme Campus.
Feedback, from the students, following the course, included;
The things taught were in depth and technical, I gained a good understanding of the challenges facing farmers and growers
I enjoyed seeing the campus and being made aware of the work conducted there
The training was put together well, it's provided what feels like a good top-level overview of agriculture whilst also providing a philosophical understanding of area and not just providing buzz words and terminology
I loved the first session with Isobel where we explored the farm, and I really enjoyed the informal nature of being able to ask questions while out and about - it brought it to life much more than in a lecture room
On 20th July the AgriFoRwArdS students will be visiting the National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM). Located at Holbeach, in South Lincolnshire, the NCFM is a satellite campus of the University of Lincoln. NCFM works on a regional, national and international basis, providing education, research and technical business support for the food and drink industry and related supply chains.
The students will experience a tour of the specialist technical facilities available at NCFM, including a dedicated food factory (with full-scale and pilot plant), food chemistry and microbiology laboratories, plus new product development facilities.
Professor Mark Swainson (Deputy Head at NCFM, and an AgriFoRwArdS Co-Investigator), and other NCFM colleagues, will provide the students with an overview of the food manufacturing industry, its sectors and its operational challenges. During the on-site sessions, the NCFM Team will cover aspects of, productivity, efficiency, factory and process design and make links to the sector advancement opportunities for robotics and wider digitalisation.
The training will also drill down into the integration of robotics, vision systems and AI technologies, all often required to achieve high impact solutions. This will include a demonstration in the NCFM robotics lab.
Research Agenda - Partnership with industry is at the heart of the NCFM research agenda. With strong food manufacturing, supply chain and related technology sector links and close academic partnership, multidisciplinary research at NCFM supports the food sector growth and innovation challenges. Core research areas include; Food Manufacturing Digitalisation & Advanced Food Processing Technologies; Food Microbiology and Chemistry (Food Analysis, Nutrition and Product Safety), Food Insights and Sustainability - including carbon net-zero and food security agendas.
Email: email@example.com or Telephone: 01406 493000.
Follow on LinkedIn and Twitter @UoLNCFM
The AgriFoRwArdS CDT Summer School 'Cambridge Style'
The AgriFoRwArdS Team at the University of Cambridge organised a fantastic first AgriFoRwArdS CDT Summer School this June.
Hosted in collaboration with the UK-RAS STAR Network, the Summer School, which took place from 28th to 30th June 2021, brought together both MSc and PhD students, from AgriFoRwArdS, the Lincoln Agri-Robotics Centre and the UK-RAS Network Robotic Programme.
31 students participated in the Summer School, allowing Cambridge to offer an ambitious workshop programme, where students worked together on complex practical exercises to produce inspiring mini projects, which were then presented as part of the AgriFoRwArdS CDT Annual Conference. A variety of Teaching Assistants and Post Doctoral Research from the Department of Engineering assisted over the three days to allow students to develop skills necessary to progress in their future careers.
Activities focused on two of the four career paths identified within the CDT; Academic and Entrepreneurial. The University of Cambridge chose these paths as they felt these areas shared many similar features with the University's areas of expertise.
Students were sent a Robotics Kit in the post, which AgriFoRwArdS CDT Student Grzegorz Sochacki worked very hard to pull together. These kits were used by students during three days of activities focused around the scanning of fruit.
Mornings during the Summer School proceedings saw presentations and workshops led by both academics and industry, including;
- Fumiya Iida (University of Cambridge) - Research Paper Writing - Tutorial
- Fulvio Forni (University of Cambridge) - How to Survive in Academia - Panel Discussion
- Helen Francis (University of Cambridge) - Knowledge Exchange - Presentation
- Fulvio Forni (University of Cambridge) - Presentation Skills - Tutorial
- Fumiya Iida (University of Cambridge), Jamie Pulido Fentanes (Saga Robotics) and Yuki Nakagawa (RT Corporation) - How to Survive as Entrepreneurs - Panel Discussion
- Amy Weatherup (i-Teams Programme) - Making the Entrepreneurial Leap - Presentation
- Belinda Colston (University of Lincoln) - Equality, Diversity and Inclusion - Presentation
In the afternoons, students split into their teams. On day one, students opened their Robotic Kits for the first time, discussing and outlining their potential Summer School projects. Day two allowed the students to report on their progress and show their preliminary results. On the third day, students presented their Summer School projects to the group and were given support with improving their presentations.
Valuable feedback was received from students following the event, which the University of East Anglia will look to take in to consideration when they host the AgriFoRwArdS Summer School 2022.
The AgriFoRwArdS Team at the University of Cambridge were thrilled with the students attendance and enthusiasm, and they would like to thank all who were involved. The AgriFoRwArdS Team would like to celebrate the progress all students made over the three days. The three days passed quickly, and all the students showed remarkable progress in their learning, as well as great resilience to the workshop pressure.
2nd CDT Annual Conference
The University of East Anglia hosted the 2nd AgriFoRwArdS CDT Annual Conference on the 1st and 2nd July 2021. The conference focused on the latest research and innovation in computer vision, for the agri-food industries. Due to government restrictions the conference was held virtually, in a similar fashion to the 1st AgriFoRwArdS CDT Annual Conference hosted by the University of Cambridge in 2020.
The conference featured presentations from academics, industry leaders and AgriFoRwArdS students, all loosely themed around the area of robotic vision in the agri-food sector. Presentations were held via Zoom, with opportunities to network and meet the presenters via text and video on Discord.
Nearly 100 people attended over the two day conference, which provided an opportunity to participate in discussions with leading academics and industry representatives working at the cutting edge in the field, as well as from some of the future leaders in agri-food robotics: the first and second cohorts of AgriFoRwArdS postgraduate researchers.
Keynote presentations were heard from;
- Bob Fisher, University of Edinburgh: “The TrimBot2020 gardening robot and other agricultural robot issues” - Prof Robert Fisher has been an academic in the School of Informatics (originally in the former Department of Artificial Intelligence) at University of Edinburgh since 1984 and a full Professor since 2003. He received his PhD from University of Edinburgh (1987), investigating computer vision in the former Department of Artificial Intelligence.
- Jeff Keiser, IBM Cloud and Cognitive Software: "30+ Years of AgriTech ... What have we learned? ... and, how do we apply that for the future?" - Jeff Keiser, Lead Product Manager, Agribusiness & Geospatial Analytics, IBM Cloud and Cognitive Software is recognized as an industry leader in digital farming, crop technology, and data and analytics across his more than 30 years of experience in global agribusiness. He designs and helps IBM's farm & agribusiness clients overcome challenges in precision farm data management and analysis through innovation and delivery of advanced environment analytics that solve business challenges by leveraging machine-collected and geospatial data and creating new business intelligence for crop management insights.
- Tony Pridmore, University of Nottingham: “Plant Phenotyping: Getting to the root of the problem” - Tony Pridmore is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Nottingham, where he leads the Computer Vision Laboratory. He holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Warwick and a PhD in Computer Vision from the University of Sheffield. Before returning to Computer Science in 1999 he held academic posts in both Information and Manufacturing Engineering.
Prizes were awarded by Professor Richard Harvey, for:
- Best Presentation
- Best Question
- Best Student Presentation
- Best Summer School Presentation
- Most Entertaining Presentation
Winners were given a certificate and a coveted AgriFoRwArdS CDT hoodie
Karoline Heiwolt, AgriFoRwArdS PhD Student, who won the Best PhD Presentation Award said;
I felt very happy and grateful to win the prize and also for lots of helpful comments and feedback from the AgriFoRwArdS community. I had amazing support from my supervisor Grzegorz Cielniak and my previous supervisor Tom Duckett in preparing this presentation. Overall, I most enjoyed the very friendly and productive atmosphere of the conference, which made it easy to engage with everyone, and hearing my fellow CDT students’ fantastic presentations.
We also spoke to Garry Clawson, who is currently studying his BSc at the University of Lincoln and will be joining AgriFoRwArdS in October 2021. Garry won the Best Question Award, here is what he had to say about the experience.
I was a little stunned to win a prize. Part of the success of this conference was having the opportunity to ask questions of experts. Being able to interact throughout the presentations was really useful to engaging in the presentation topic. As an early researcher who will be joining with Cohort 3 in October 2021, I learn a lot from how questions are asked and answered and appreciate the opportunity to do this. This is my first CDT conference. I was really surprised with the breadth of presentations, from Jeff Keiser of IBM Watson touching on blockchain technology to Karoline Heiwolt discussing new approaches of deep learning for 3D plant segmentation across to Grzegorz Sochacki demonstrating soft robotics in the robotic chef domain. Each of the student presentations were phenomenal as were the keynote speakers. It was really well organized event with a great mix of industry and academia and I look forward to next years. A huge thank you to University of East Anglia and the wider AgriFoRwArdS team for hosting and arranging this CDT conference. As an early researcher it is very exciting to have the opportunity to see, present and get feedback on ideas but also have the chance to engage with distinguished members such as Tony Pridmore, Bob Fisher and Jeff Keiser.
Mazvydas Gudelis, who is currently studying his MSc with the AgriFoRwArdS CDT, was part of the Lettuce Team, who won the Best Summer School Presentation Award. Here is what he had to say about the prize, the conference and the summer school.
I was really surprised when we won, especially when I know I've seen others present in more detail and include more metrics. I guess people thought ours was cool due to the neat model inference gifs we included in the presentation slides. Both the conference and the summer school were very well organized. The inclusion of the turntable, teams, tasks and presentations made it feel like a hackathon at some points, which I really liked. Me and I think my whole team were really surprised when we won, I think we all knew it's probably by a margin. It was clear how surprised and shy about it we were. I think as far as apple grading standards, their damage assessment and all that core bit of our presentation is better known by the other members of our team. I focused on technical Machine Learning bits and getting everything to work so my support is always the same - google and redbull. The conference was very well organized, I for one was very happy to see some CEFAS presentations as I'll be working with them in the future.
The AgriFoRwArdS Team would like to thank everyone who attended and participated in the Conference, it was your enthusiastic participation which made the conference such a success.
Last year AgriFoRwArdS hosted the 3rd UK-RAS Conference for PhD and Early-Career Researchers (find out more about the conference on the AgriFoRwArdS website).
On the 2nd June 2021, the 4th UK-RAS Conference for PhD and Early-Career Researchers was hosted remotely by the University of Hertfordshire. The theme of this year’s conference was “Robotics at Home” and the programme featured three inspiring Keynote speakers and 12 oral presentations as well as an interactive session with 17 parallel poster presentations, including AgriFoRwArdS Student, Roopika Ravikanna.
Dr Jelizaveta Konstantinova (Ocado Technology) opened the first session on “Robots Making Themselves At Home” with an excellent keynote talk on “Robots in the workplace: Innovation at Ocado Technology and the SecondHands project”. And the afternoon session on “Robotics Research While Working From Home” was opened by Prof. Ana Cavalcanti (University of York) with a fascinating talk on “RoboStar modelling stack: tackling the reality gap”.
An interactive session on discord replaced the traditional in-person poster session and offered the chance for conference delegates to interact directly with the 17 presenters in dedicated text and video chat rooms.
The final session of the day focussed on “Robotics For Use In The Home” and featured a fantastic keynote talk on “Humans and Robots Together: Engineering Sociality and Collaboration” from Prof. Ana Paiva (GAIPS, INESC-ID and IST, Universidade de Lisboa).