sugar beet field

Research position on swarm robotics for precision farming

A new research position is open within the SAGA experiment: swarm robotics for agricultural applications.

Experiment description:
Robotics is expected to play a major role in the agricultural domain, and often multi-robot systems and collaborative approaches are mentioned as potential solutions to improve efficiency and system robustness. Among the multi-robot approaches, swarm robotics stresses aspects like flexibility, scalability and robustness in solving complex tasks, and is considered very relevant for precision farming and large-scale agricultural applications. However, swarm robotics research is still confined into the lab, and no application in the field is currently available. SAGA will demonstrate for the first time the application of swarm robotics principles to the agricultural domain. Specifically, we target a decentralised monitoring/mapping scenario, and implement a use-case for the detection of volunteer potatoes in sugar beet fields by a group of small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

The experiment is founded within the context of the ECHORD++ EU project, and will last 18 months. It is carried out in collaboration with the Wageningen University and Avular.

A graduate research scientist positions is available, at the conditions described below.

Job Description:
The candidate will develop the main strategy for the decentralised monitoring and mapping problem of volunteer potatoes in a sugar beet field, to be deployed on a swarm of UAVs. The monitoring and mapping problem will be framed in the context of the emergence of a categorisation system within the swarm, so that different categories are associated with different portions of the field. Each category features a semantic label that determines the amount of detected weed.

The ideal candidate must demonstrate relevant expertise in swarm robotics, swarm intelligence or in the design of decentralised systems. Analytical skills are an asset in order to develop population-level models in support of the design of self-organising behaviours. Previous experiences with robotics and UAV control are also important, as the candidate will actively participate in deploying the UAV swarm for field experiments.

Salary and working conditions:
The research positions lasts for one year (starting as soon as possible, no later than mid September 2016), with possible extension until the end of the experiment. The positions will be based in Rome with a standard graduate research fellow contract (about 1450€/month net salary), with the possibility of visiting periods in The Netherlands to work in close collaboration with the project partners (Wageningen University and Avular).

For further details about the application procedure, see the notice of selection.

For any informal enquiry about the eligibility conditions, as well as for more details about the position, please contact me.