The agriculture industry’s technological revolution is in full swing. On one hand, robotics investors, manufacturers, startups and other players along the supply chain have begun to bring their big ideas to fruition, but there are challenges, too. Many innovations are still years away from moving beyond the testing and prototype stages, which has prompted leaders in the ag robotics market to examine what’s missing in order for things to really take off.
The one certainty is that many farmers and producers are ready for solutions. As they anxiously await new technologies and autonomous robots and systems to become widely available, the industry is now faced with an important question: How will the market change in order to successfully scale up?
That’s precisely the question the “Autonomous Robots, how to scale up for the farmers' benefits?” roundtable seeks to answer at World FIRA 2021. Moderator Pierre Compere, Business Development Manager for Agri Sud-Ouest Innovation, will lead the discussion among four panelists. Joining Compere on the panel is Trevor Sieck (Rabobank), Fabien Arignon (SITIA), Daria Batukhtina (Kubota) and John Carrigan (The Yield Lab). Each of the experts has investing expertise and will share their perspectives on how the industry must move forward.
“The general idea for this conference is to describe all the key success factors to scaling up in the field of ag robotics,” Compere says. “We’ll talk about finances, of course, as some panelists are investors, but it is not only about money! Money is a necessary condition but not a sufficient one.”
Aside from an in-depth look at what it takes to properly fund and finance ag robotics, the panelists will consider various deployment strategies, means of accelerating technological developments and solutions best suited to meet farmers’ unique needs. Compere has some thoughts. In preparing for his role as moderator and through his work with AgRobotics Land, a fostering environment in South East Toulouse designed for ag robotics manufacturers, he understands that there are a lot of moving pieces that need to fit together in order to move the industry toward maturation and growth.
“At the stage where the robot is supposed to be functional, how can one scale up if the usages are not so familiar and the technologies are not quite mastered?” he asks. “There are lots of expectations, but to my understanding, robots, especially outdoor ones, don’t deliver on all their promises.”
“To scale up, the robotics also need to comply with local regulatory frameworks, but sometimes, rules and regulatory standards don’t exist yet,” he continues. “Leaders of ag robotics have an important role in opening the path and stimulating the creation of union and federation—such as Robagri in France—to institute a contact to the administration at a national and European level”
With these potential issues playing a considerable role in how autonomous robots and other technologies are successfully adopted by the market, Compere crafted questions to learn more from the experts on the panel to learn more.
“Some of the questions I have for the panelists include: How to get quickly into the market, even though the robots would need to be adapted to various situations?,” he says. “How do you deal with versioning and versatility? Is ‘robot as a service’ the best way to penetrate a new market before selling robots? Should a company start by selecting a local partner able to take in charge the maintenance and customer services? How do you go about planning internationalization? I would like the panelist to illustrate the variety of funding and deployment strategies with success stories.”
Compere is also working to help build another one of the industry’s success stories. Through AgRobotics Land, robotics manufacturers are connected to a wide range of resources that move their innovations forward. The idea is relatively simple. When many of the agriculture sector’s leading companies and institutions collaborate, the end customer wins.
“At AgRobotics Land, we gather not only technological solutions providers, research and academic institutions, but we also bring together demonstration sites, interested farming operators, and more,” Compere says. “This center of gravity of the French agricultural robotics ecosystem benefits from dynamic innovation hubs, such as Agri Sud-Ouest Innovation, that are dedicated to supporting effective technology deployment for ecology-smart agri-food chains.”
To learn more about the ways the ag robotics industry can scale up to better meet their customers’ expectations, be sure to attend the “Autonomous Robots, how to scale up for the farmers' benefits?” roundtable discussion.
The event will take place at the World FIRA 2021 conference on Thursday, December 9, 2021, at 4 pm.