Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

Robotics

How AI and automation will shape the future of agriculture

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 8 May 2019

Close-up photo of the Mamut robot travelling along a path between rows of bush or tree-looking crops demonstrating its use in agriculture

The agriculture industry is fundamental to securing a sustainable future for humanity. Few other sectors have such enormous potential to benefit the planet in the face of population increase, resource depletion, and climate change.

For some observers, the focus on agriculture pertains to the simple concern of feeding 9.8 billion people from a static (or worse: declining) arable land base. For others, the focus lies more on the quality of our soils, watercourses and ecosystems, and their ability to support life or sequester carbon.

Regardless, the basic mathematical realities of our finite land mass and the competing demands upon it – rapidly changing weather patterns and increasing rates of consumption – lay bare a stark challenge: producing more food from less land, with less waste, lower inputs, and lower environmental burden. According to estimates, we need to produce as much food in the next four decades as we have produced, so far, in the entire history of agriculture – some 10,000 years.

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Future of AI – less artificial, more intelligent (part two)

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 25 March 2019

Discussing Intelligence – the image shows text “Future of AI – less artificial, more intelligent (part two)”. To the left of the text is an abstract depiction of AI that uses neuron-looking fibers swirling around a central, circular nucleus.Artificial intelligence, robotics, and the pursuit of autonomous systems that we can trust.

In part one, Beyond Limits CTO Mark James sets the scene for new developments at the intersection of AI and robotics. In part two, he describes how cognitive intelligence moves to the extreme edge, and provides cautionary guidance for humans to remain in control of artificial intelligence as it grows in power and capability.

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Future of AI – less artificial, more intelligent (part one)

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 21 March 2019

Image shows text “Future of AI – less artificial, more intelligent (part one)”. To the right of the text is an abstract depiction of AI that uses neuron-looking fibers swirling around a central, circular nucleus.Artificial intelligence, robotics, and the pursuit of autonomous systems that we can trust.

Part one of two articles about robotics and AI by Mark James, who spent 30 years developing advanced software systems for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and is now CTO of Beyond Limits, an AI engineering company in southern California.


Intelligence is a rare and valuable commodity. From the mysterious brain of the octopus and the swarm intelligence of ants, to Go-playing deep learning machines and driverless vehicles – intelligence is the most powerful and precious resource in existence. Despite recent advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) that enable it to win games and drive cars, there are countless untapped opportunities for advanced technology to have a significant and beneficial impact on the world. Particularly so at the intersection of AI and robotics.

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Cleaning our oceans with AI-powered robot microscopes

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 24 September 2018

image of a variety of plankton seen through IBM's autonomous microscope.
Plankton under IBM 3D microscope

Our oceans are dirty. AI-powered robot microscopes may save them.

In five years, small autonomous AI microscopes, networked in the cloud and deployed around the world, will continually monitor the condition of the natural resource most critical to our survival: water.

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GRAID moves closer to the pipeline front line

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 18 October 2017

With a bold new twin-chassis design, our ground-breaking GRAID robot is on track to transform the way National Grid inspects previously unreachable sections of its network. Project Lead David Hardman shares the latest as this innovative pipe dream gets closer to reality.

Human fascination with the power of machines has remained undimmed for decades. So it’s no surprise that our latest robotic innovation – Project GRAID – has been capturing the imagination of everyone from the national press to the gas industry, our customers and stakeholders.

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Driving Curiosity with Autonomous Systems

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 9 August 2017

Director of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, Keshini Navaratnam, is joined by two leading roboticists to discuss how autonomous systems can inspire future generations.

Alongside being an electrical engineer, Dr Ayanna Howard is an educator, researcher and innovator. Her work focuses on how humans and autonomous systems can work together and the ethics behind doing so. This research has allowed Ayanna to make significant contributions to artificial intelligence, computer vision and robotics.

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Plant-inspired robot creeps towards success

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 7 August 2017

Edging along fences and creeping up walls, climbing plants send out tendrils in search of the sunniest spots in the garden.

In the lab, researchers have replicated the movements of nature countless times. Robots can walk, run and jump. They have even learned how to swim. Now, a team of mechanical engineers from Stanford University have taken inspiration for their latest robot from climbing plants. Following the lead of creepers such as ivy, the soft robot shoots out a tendril to ‘grow’ itself forwards.

The concept behind the idea is very simple and uses a process called ‘eversion’. The robot itself is a tube of soft plastic, folded inside itself. (Think of those slippery ‘water snake’ toys from the 90s!). As pressurised air fills the tube, the folded material turns the right way out, propelling the tip forwards.

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Dynamic educational toys bring building blocks to life

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 16 February 2017

Brixo Kit

Who hasn’t played with building blocks when they were kids? There is no doubt that the castles, vehicles and miniature cities of our childhoods were the stuff of legend.

Yet games of this nature—those that enable you to design, construct and even problem-solve—are more than mere playthings. They stimulate motor skills and hand-eye coordination, they promote analytical thinking, and they encourage creativity through invention.

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