PULLMAN, Wash. — To speed robotic advancements that help farmers grow food with fewer resources, scientists at Washington State University and Australia’s University of Technology Sydney have partnered to form the new Joint Center for Agricultural Robotics.

The partnership joins WSU scientists’ expertise in innovative automation solutions for farms and orchards with pre-eminent research in robotics at the University of Technology Sydney’s (UTS) Centre for Autonomous Systems.

“Bringing our experience in artificial intelligence and robotics together with WSU’s tremendous ag automation and biological systems engineering will bring truly fruitful collaborative outcomes,” said Michael Blumenstein, UTS associate dean.

Through innovations like apple-picking robots, sensor-driven high efficiency irrigation systems and crop-sensing drones, discoveries in agricultural automation could boost productivity, save labor, conserve natural resources and reduce dependence on chemicals.

Australian scientists toured WSU’s Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems and signed an agreement for the new joint center. The universities have been exchanging ideas and discussing collaboration since 2015. The new center could spur team projects, joint workshops, conferences and publications, exchange of students and faculty and joint applications for funding.

The joint center will be overseen by Dikai Liu, director of UTS Centre for Autonomous Systems, and Qin Zhang, director of WSU CPAAS.

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