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The Center for Digital Agriculture is pleased to host a Distinguished Speaker Series during the Spring 2022 semester. Join CDA on May 4, 2022 via Zoom as Dr. John Shutske, Director for Agriculture Safety and Health and Extension specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will be presenting "The Technology Part is Easy”—But What About the Risk?."
View series here
Abstract: Advancements in highly-automated agricultural machines over the last decade have generated excitement in the industry and in the general public. Major agricultural equipment companies have used national and international events to generate attention about their latest designs. U.S. and international companies tout benefits of labor savings and production efficiency. Another widely promoted idea is the ability of new highly-automated technology to improve operator experience by improving safety and ergonomics while reducing the cognitive burden of repetitive and boring tasks. In all areas where automated or autonomous machines replace older technologies (including motor vehicle design and deployment), safety is a major barrier in the pathway to adoption. Novel technology is difficult to understand among stakeholders such as insurers and regulators who focus on safety. New engineering design standards have been created in the past five years, but these tend to use older risk-assessment methods predicated on having a rich base of historical incident (accident) data. Such data does not yet exist. These standards and documented safety efforts sometimes focus on obstacle detection whereas historical data suggests that operator and bystander farm injuries often occur in situations where the hazard is not easily detected by a human operator and while equipment is being operated in suboptimal conditions or is being repaired or maintained. New engineering standards also sometimes exclude other important hazards and outcomes in their scope such as environmental damage, harm to structures and civic infrastructure, risk to livestock, and risk assessment that includes the economic impact of downtime. This presentation will explore many of these issues. Data from an industry survey of practicing engineers will show that new risk assessment methods must be developed along with datasets that might be used in training and informing software used on these machines. An analysis of 434 fatal non-automated machine events will show that even highly experienced operators are challenged by the task of “hazard detection” which has implications related to dependence on sensors, AI, and other software to handle functions of safety. A list of further research and development needs will be presented for discussion.
Speaker Bio:John Shutske is a professor and extension specialist at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Dr. Shutske’s research, Extension, and teaching efforts focus on safety, risk control, and health promotion in agriculture and closely connected industries. He serves as director of the UW Center for Agricultural Safety and Health and is an affiliate professor in the School of Medicine and Public Health in the Department of Family Medicine.
Historically, Dr. Shutske worked on the design, evaluation, and development of engineering technologies to better protect farm operators and employees from injury and other loss. This has included the design of fire protection systems, highway collision warning systems, and sensors to protect humans approaching or working near rotating machine components and other hazards. Shutske also worked for five years post 9/11 on application of engineering-based risk assessment methods in the agricultural and food industries in cooperation with state and federal agencies. Before getting started in a university setting in 1990, Dr. Shutske worked in loss control and safety analysis for the farm bureau insurance companies active in Illinois, Washhington, and Oregon. Dr. Shutske’s current work focuses on quantifying risk associated with new driverless, automated, robotic, and other novel agricultural equipment. This includes evaluating historical methods employed by engineers such as failure modes and effects analysis and other risk assessment techniques often used in the design process and other techniques embedded in current engineering design standards promulgated by ISO, ASABE and other groups. Shutske is also involved in the UW’s ABET-accredited undergraduate teaching program where he has teaches the process of design through the two Biological Systems Engineering’s capstone design courses as well as Career Management for Engineers, a class that includes content connected to ethics, safety, standards, sustainability, liability, and lifelong learning.