IEEE ICMA 2021 Conference

Plenary Talk II

The Future of Agricultural Automation

Ken Goldberg, Ph.D.
Professor and Director
William S. Floyd Jr. Distinguished Chair in Engineering
Department Chair, Industrial Engineering / Operations Research (IEOR)
Director, AUTOLAB and CITRIS "People and Robots" Initiative Founding Member,
Berkeley AI Research (BAIR) Lab Joint Appointments: EECS, Art Practice,
School of Information (UC Berkeley) and Radiation Oncology (UC San Francisco Medical School).
University of California, Berkeley


For over 10,000 years, humans have worked to understand and control the complexity of plants. As the climate changes and a growing population seeks fresh and healthy nutrition, how can robots be used in agriculture? This talk will review recent progress including John Deere's use of drones to fine-tune fertilizer delivery and Earth Sense mobile robots that roll beneath leaf canopies to closely monitor plant properties that optimize breeding. I'll share results from RAPID, a USDA-sponsored project developing Robot Assisted Precision Irrigation Delivery, and two projects that incorporate art and research: TeleGarden (1995) where over 100,000 people remotely collaborated to tend a living garden, and Alpha Garden (2020), where simulation and measurements from a living garden are being combined to train a robot to sustain a diverse polyculture garden. This talk will explore how the the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions can be extended by the AI Revolution.

Prof. Ken Goldberg is an artist, inventor, and UC Berkeley Professor focusing on robotics. He was appointed the William S. Floyd Jr Distinguished Chair in Engineering and serves as Chair of the Industrial Engineering and Operations Research Department. He has secondary appointments in EECS, Art Practice, the School of Information, and Radiation Oncology at the UCSF Medical School. Ken is Director of the CITRIS "People and Robots" Initiative and the UC Berkeley AUTOLAB where he and his students pursue research in machine learning for robotics and automation in warehouses, homes, and operating rooms. Ken developed the first provably complete algorithms for part feeding and part fixturing and the first robot on the Internet. Despite agonizingly slow progress, he persists in trying to make robots less clumsy. He has over 250 peer-reviewed publications and 8 U.S. Patents. He co-founded and served as Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering. Ken's artwork has appeared in 70 exhibits including the Whitney Biennial and films he has co-written have been selected for Sundance and nominated for an Emmy Award. Ken was awarded the NSF PECASE (Presidential Faculty Fellowship) from President Bill Clinton in 1995, elected IEEE Fellow in 2005 and selected by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society for the George Saridis Leadership Award in 2016.
More information can be obtained in

The Robotics Society of Japan Kagawa University Kagawa University The Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers Japan Society for Precision Engineering The Society of Instrument and Control Engineers State Key Laboratory of Robotics and System (HIT) State Key Laboratory of Robotics and System (HIT) Harbin Engineering University University of Electro-Communications University of Electronic Science and Technology of China Changchun University of Science and Technology