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ARISE: Making a Step-Change to Solar and Hydroponic Farms

Wed, 15 May, 2024

The ARISE project, funded under the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme, aims to introduce a combination of perception and control modules for a reconfigurable, robotic manipulator. This will elevate the level of automation beyond what is currently possible for complex manipulation tasks. The project’s toolchain will be integrated and validated in real-world, use case scenarios, including installation and repair of solar systems, and transplanting and harvesting tasks in hydroponic farms.

The consortium consists of Hellenic Mediterranean University, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Technical University of Darmstadt, CEA, ALSYMEX, PLAIXUS, BENDABL, Centre for Research and Technology Hellas, Spanish National Research Council, UBITECH, PROBOTICA, TELEKINESIS, ELVAN, JEPCO and the Essex Innovation Centre ( a University of Essex–TWI partnership, represented by TWI Hellas on the project).

With labour shortages posing a significant challenge in the energy and agriculture sectors, the need for innovative solutions has never been more pressing. The ARISE project, with its focus on leveraging the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, is poised to make a substantial impact on these sectors, ensuring their continued competitiveness and environmental leadership.

The solar farm automation market was worth EUR 220.6 million in 2020 and is estimated to reach EUR 316.3 million by 2027, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.3%. Thus, automation technologies can improve efficiency, reduce operational costs and increase accessibility to clean power in the solar energy industry.

Moving on to the food security challenge, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that a 27.5% increase in food production is necessary to feed the projected population of 9.1 billion by 2050. To address the above pressing statistic, hydroponic techniques offer a promising solution since they can speed up crop growth and boost yields. Thanks to advancements in automation technology, the global hydroponics market, worth EUR 1.95 billion in 2020, is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20.7% between 2021 and 2028.

TWI Hellas is honoured to be the Project Coordinator, overseeing all management activities and leading on project dissemination, impact analysis and policy recommendation development for the ARISE toolchain. TWI Hellas will also provide technical input in areas such as analysing the manipulation tasks for the five use cases, determining the hardware and software architecture of the ARISE platform, integrating encoders, incorporating cameras, collecting demonstration data and defining sensor interfaces.

More specifically, TWI Hellas Hardware Engineer, Antonis Volanis, who has a background in power electronics, expresses his excitement at being the technical lead for the ARISE project. He comments “I believe the consortium has the potential to deliver strong results. Presently, we are working on providing educated estimates of the major factors that will affect the capabilities and performance of the end product, both at the hardware level as well as in higher layers of abstraction. These could be things factors like power supply requirements, computational strength and macro-motor skills, to name a few. Once these parameters are defined, we will be poised to move forward, developing and integrating in tandem with our consortium partners.”

Overall, the ARISE project seeks to revolutionise the energy and agriculture sectors by leveraging AI and robotics to address pressing challenges, and usher in a new era of efficiency, productivity and sustainability.

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