OLDS – Olds College students will receive instruction on field-scale robotics technology on the school’s Smart Farm when classes resume this fall, officials said.
As part of a three-year research project, students and instructors will be working with the autonomous DOT Power Platform, a mobile diesel vehicle that can operate a large variety of farm implements such as sprayers.
The undertaking will also see the collection of information and observations to gauge the benefits and challenges of autonomous agricultural equipment.
“Our goal is to demonstrate how this leading edge technology works and provide research results for producers to use to make informed decision about how to incorporate this technology into their own operations,” Dr. Joy Agnew, associate vice-president, applied research, at Olds College, said in a release.
“Our students will also benefit from working with and understanding autonomous technology.”
The Smart Farm is a 2,000-acre facility on the college grounds that sees collaboration, education and commercial-scale applied research conducted in partnership with industry.
The DOT A-U1 mobile diesel power platform, the DOT Seeder-SeedMaster Ultra DSR, DOT Sprayer-Pattison Connect, and the DOT-ready New Leader NL5000 nutrient applicator will be used by Smart Farm staff starting this spring with students joining in come fall.
"The machinery is owned by Olds College, thanks to research investments from Western Economic Diversification Canada, together with private partners, such as Raven Applied Technology," said college spokesperson Blayne Meek.
James Benkie, dean of the Werklund School of Agriculture Technology, said: “The agriculture industry is being transformed by technology and data. Our students will be exposed to the hardware, software, and data needed to integrate, operate and manage the full DOT autonomous Power Platform on the Smart Farm, which provides a one-of-a-kind high tech, hands on learning environment.”
Melanie Joy, federal minister of economic development called the project an “important milestone for the Olds College Smart Farm, one that could enable producers to soon apply new tools, technologies and processes to further improve their operational efficiency.”