With an estimated 37% of the world’s greenhouse gasses being produced by the agri-food industry, the UK Government has selected the University of Lincoln, UK, to share with COP26 its cutting-edge robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) technology which is influencing the future of sustainable food production.

The UN Climate Change Conference COP26 takes place in Glasgow from 31 October 2021, aiming to bring together nations in accelerating action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology (LIAT), a specialist research institute of the University of Lincoln, will be exhibiting at the public-facing ‘Green Zone’ exhibition alongside numerous industry leaders at the forefront of climate science.

Lincoln’s researchers will be exhibiting ‘Robofruit’, one of many state-of-the-art agri-tech projects, which uses AI and novel picking technology to harvest ripe fruit (as seen in the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JF4WR6Li-v4). This research has long-term environmental benefits including reduced food waste by better utilising crops It will also help to address labour shortages in the UK, driving the route to larger scaled use of robotics and AI in agriculture.

The University of Lincoln has one of Europe’s largest academic research centres for agri-robotics. Research carried out by LIAT aims to drive industry sustainability by addressing labour shortages, the need for global food production and to reduce the environmental impact of the farming sector.

LIAT and partners are also responsible for Robot Highways, one of the world’s largest robotic farm demonstration projects which delivers a vision for the future of farming. Robots assist farmers by carrying out essential, energy intensive physical farm processes such as picking and packing fruit and treating crops to reduce critical pests and diseases – all powered by renewable energy.

The COP26 exhibition will showcase various field activities – including agri-forestry, robotic harvesting and crop care as well as packaging, digitalization and the employment of artificial intelligence.

Dr Amir Ghalamzan-Esfahani, Associate Professor in Robotics at the University of Lincoln, who will be showcasing Robofruit, said: “We are demonstrating to the world how robotics and automation are shaping the future of UK and international farming and food production.

“The University of Lincoln is at the forefront of the UK’s agri-tech and agri-food developments, with our research and teaching supporting innovation and developing workforce skills alongside partners across our food and farming sectors. Together, we aim for a net zero emissions across the industry.”

Professor Simon Pearson, Director of the University’s Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology, said: “The Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology is supporting and enhancing the future of food and agriculture productivity, efficiency, and sustainability through research, education, and technology.

“We are honoured to be selected as one of the few UK universities to be selected by Government to showcase at COP26.”

The University of Lincoln will be exhibiting at COP26 between 1 and 12 November. Whilst one of the University’s robots will be at COP26, a wider pool of technologies and speakers will be present at the FPC Futures Conference on 4th November at the Lincolnshire Show Ground, where members of the public can see technologies up close and speak to researchers.

University staff and students will also be showing support by hosting a week of activities to encourage people on campus and across the wider community to learn more about climate action. More information can be found at www.lincoln.ac.uk/home/abouttheuniversity/sustainability/climateweek/