Salad, watercress and herb producer Vitacress has helped sponsor a series of educational workshops. The sessions were designed to encourage students to consider the application of robotics in areas such as horticulture and agriculture.
The ‘Growbotics’ workshops took place at the Kings College London Strand campus for a group of 16 year old students. It was carried out as part of a public engagement course the Science Gallery London are running with Kings College London called ‘Collaborate and Engage’. The two organisations held a competition to win a grant that could be put towards a public engagement activity and ‘Growbotics’ was one of the selected projects.
During the workshops, the students were challenged with automating a Vertical Lego Farm. Working together, one group were automating the Vertical Farm crane to pick up lego plants from shelves, and the other group were arranging the plants in a ‘yard’. The completed Vertical Lego Farm will become part of an interactive public exhibition organised by Kings College London on Horticultural and Agricultural Robotics later in the autumn.
The Growbotics workshops were devised and organised by Aran Sena of King’s College London, whose work is funded by a PhD studentship awarded by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. Aran said “I am passionate about the benefits that robotics can offer horticulture and agriculture and wanted to share this with students who are considering their career and further education options. Vitacress has been a big advocate of our research into robotics and horticulture here at Kings College, so they were a natural sponsor for the Growbotics workshops.”
Chris Moncrieff, production director at Vitacress Herbs, who arranged the sponsorship, said: “Robotics and automation have an increasingly significant role to play in horticulture and agriculture which is why I think the research they are doing at Kings is so important. We were delighted to sponsor these workshops which we hope will encourage young people to consider a career in this sector and may challenge some perceptions that people have of working in horticulture and farming.”