Saturday Engineering for Everyone is an open and free lecture series aimed at non-engineers of all backgrounds who are interested in learning about engineering topics.
This talk will be virtual.
Zoom link: https://illinois.zoom.us/j/82172480909?pwd=WFh4M2tPRFc5YklRWmRYRFhTaUFyQT09
Speaker: Girish Chowdhary, Assistant Professor
Overview: Assistant Professor Girish Chowdhary, Donald Biggar Willet Faculty Fellow of agricultural and biological engineering (ABE) and computer science (CS), has spent years developing robotic technology to improve on traditional farming practices. He is now leading an effort to improve farming practices even more by making it autonomous through artificial intelligence.
“Agriculture relies a lot on intensive management of areas of land. We used to do all of that manually, but in the last 30-40 years we’ve been trying to use chemicals,” said Chowdhary, who holds an appointment in aerospace engineering. “While chemicals are simple to use, especially at a large scale, we’re now seeing bad effects from overuse. The idea behind our work is that if we can create robots that do some of the manual work, like mechanical weeding, that will help us create more alternatives to chemicals.”
Autonomous technology could help a variety of farmers, from thousand-acre operations to neighborhood urban farming. For the commodity crops that cover most of Illinois’ rural landscape, groups of autonomous robots could weed and spray under the crop canopy or plant cover crops before harvest takes place, improving the efficacy of the practice. While it can help farmers who plant soybeans and corn, another motivation of this work is to help diversify the crops planted throughout the state of Illinois. If robots could take on some of the manual labor needed by horticulture crops like vegetables and berries, this would allow farmers and urban gardeners alike to grow these specialty crops without a large labor investment.