Smart Farms of the Future: Trends in Robotics & Automation

Santosh Pitla

Event Details
Thursday, November 17, 2022
3:30 p.m., Avery 115

4:30 p.m., Avery 115

Santosh Pitla, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Advanced Machinery Systems, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Department of Biological Systems Engineering


Over the last decade several advancements have been made in the area of robotics and automation in agriculture. This presentation will focus on the automation and autonomy trends in agriculture with a focus on transitioning to robotics in broad acre row-crop production. Some im-portant technological challenges that are impeding the advancement of robotics in row-crop pro-duction applications will be discussed. An overview of Nebraska Robotic test-beds deployed in research field plots will be presented with a discussion on work related to logistics of robotic oper-ations and autonomy. Student training at the intersection or robotics & agriculture, and creation of experiential learning opportunities to address skilled workforce needs of next-generation jobs will be discussed. 

Speaker Bio

Santosh Pitla is an Associate Professor of Advanced Machinery Systems in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Santosh’s research is in the area of agricultural robotics, control architectures for safe and secure operation of autonomous equipment, and tractor power characterization. Santosh Directs the Machine Automation & Agri-cultural Robotics (MAARS) lab with a team of 9 graduate students , 4 undergraduate students, and one research engineer. MAARS lab houses three tiered robotic platforms for developing individual and multi-robot control architectures. These three tiered robotic platforms are operated in green-houses, and research fields. Santosh teaches four courses a year in both agricultural engineering and agricultural systems technology programs at UNL. He is involved in teaching various courses ranging from freshman level introductory classes to graduate classes. Santosh utilizes diverse classroom pedagogical approaches for effective student learning and over the years he developed many automation related hardware prototypes for providing rich hands-on experiences to students through lab activities. Santosh employs scholarship of teach and learning (SOTL) principles and employs class-room assessment techniques (CATS) to evaluate student learning. Santosh created a student-run technology service center called BSE-PI to provide technical services to university researchers and start-up companies. This service center is also serving as an experimental framework for provid-ing inter-disciplinary real-world project experiences to students. Santosh is also the advisor of the UNL-Robotics Club which competes annually at the international ASABE robotics competition . This year Santosh took the position of Co-Chair of Rogers Memorial Farm (RMF) which is a 300 acre farm operated by the BSE department for Research, Teaching, and Exten-sion activities.