Session
Title: Autonomy/Robotics
Date: Tue Aug 3, 2021
Time: 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Moderator: James Brehm

It is coming, if a ways off. Automating jobs and processes are happening today on farms around the country. We will look at how this trend may impact labor and other issues as well as address how to get started with autonomy and robotics.

Why Autonomy?

When embarking on a startup, the first question posed is what problem are you trying to solve. Meanwhile, if you’re going to solve a problem as a startup, make it a big one - make it audacious! We’re going to review the fundamental problem autonomy solves, our approach, what we’ve accomplished, what we’ve learned, and where we’re headed.

Craig Rupp (speaker)
CEO
Sabanto, Inc.
Chicago, IL 60642-5413
US

Craig started his career in 1988 as a hardware engineer at Motorola, designing and developing the first GSM and Iridium mobile stations and John Deere in 2002, developing the Starfire receiver and Greenstar display. 

In 2002, Craig founded ATG, providing RF manufacturing software, acquired by National Instruments in 2005. As a Chief Measurement Architect, he developed AM, FM, RDS, Bluetooth, GSM, EDGE, CDMA2k, EVDO, WCDMA, and LTE solutions.

In 2012, Craig founded 640 Labs, developing the 640 Drive, acquired by Monsanto in 2014. He then made his FieldView Drive one of the most ubiquitous and low-cost data collection devices in agriculture.

In 2018, Craig founded Sabanto, a company that provides autonomous solutions. He was the first to autonomously plant a farmer’s field in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana.

Raised on a farm in Iowa, he earned his BSEE at Iowa State in 1988 and MSEE from Illinois Tech in 1990. He currently has 14 patents.

Length (approx): 10 min
 
Operations Planning for Autonomous Equipment

Planning is a crucial step in the agricultural production process and it must be designed based on detailed machinery parameters that are customized to match the scope and complexity of field operations. Besides self-driving capability, nearly the entire problem of autonomous is path planning and automating operational decisions. How do you execute field operations when you aren’t within physical proximity to the field? To help farmers conduct a thorough evaluation of the factors that influence operations planning, the team at Verge Ag has developed an easy to use software that simplifies farm planning to reduce in-field decision making and help accelerate the transition to autonomous farming. Verge’s software, Launch Pad, is the world’s first interactive web application for autonomous farm operations planning.

Nicholas Morrow (speaker)
VP of Product
Verge Ag
Sioux Falls, SD, NA 57108
US

Nick Morrow is VP of Product at Verge Ag. He is responsible for product strategy and development with a focus on grower solutions that simplifies farm planning to reduce in-field decisions. Nick brings over 17 years of agriculture technology expertise, encompassing remote sensing, ag retail sales enablement, and equipment technology. He started his career in 2003 focused on remote sensing collecting and delivering timely, high resolution imagery to advisors as a decision support tool for scouting. At John Deere and then at Raven, he promoted the value of automated data transfer between equipment and 3rd party systems. At Agrian, he led the product team and was responsible for designing, developing and implementing go-to-market strategy for all Agrian products and services. Nick is passionate about leveraging ag technology to make growers’ lives easier through automation and delightful user experiences. He lives in Sioux Falls, SD and is a graduate of Iowa State University in Aerospace Engineering and Colorado State University Masters of Business.

Length (approx): 10 min
 
Robotics for Boosting Retail Services

Robotics and automation can be folded into ag retail services in many ways. This presentation will feature case studies where automated soil sampling led to increase revenues and field personnel efficiencies. 

Troy Fiechter (speaker)
CEO
Rogo
West Lafayette, IN, NA 47906
US

As an engineer and farmer, Troy has worked to intersect practicality and innovation to create value on his own commercially sized farm and for many retailers that serve other farmers.  He has started doing this by tightening the screws on fertility with the use of robotics and patented sampling equipment.  He then started Rogo Ag LLC.  Rogo has rapidly expanded to serve retailer's soil sampling needs.  Troy practices how to meaningfully communicate value to farmers and challenge an industry in an area that hasn't changed in many years.

Length (approx): 10 min
 
Transitioning to Robotics in Row-Crop Production

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 important technological challenges that are impeding the advancement of robotics in row-crop production 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 operations and autonomy.

Santosh Pitla (speaker)
Associate Professor
University of Nebraska Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68583-0726
US

Santosh Pitla is an Associate Professor 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 for multiple operations. Currently, he directs the Advanced Machinery Systems Laboratory (AMSL) at the BSE department comprising of a team six graduate students and five undergraduate students. AMSL lab houses three tiered robotic platforms for developing individual and multi-robot control architectures. These three tiered robotic platforms are operated in greenhouses, and research fields. Santosh also has a teaching appointment and teaches Sensors and Controls in Agri-Industries, Electricity, Hydraulic Power, and Embedded Control Systems to mechanization management and agricultural engineering students.

Length (approx): 10 min
 
Autonomy at the Dealership

Raven’s OMNiPOWER and OMNiDRIVE solutions are bringing Driverless Ag Technology into the market today and providing solutions for Ag Retailers and growers.  We will discuss real world examples where customers have found success as well as future plans to expand capabilities and geographies.

Dominic Walkes (speaker)
Director of Strategic Initiatives
Raven Industries
Sioux Falls, SD, NA 57104
US

In 2012, Dominic began working for Raven Industries in Sioux Falls, SD, in the Applied Technology Division, working on agriculture-based products that utilize GPS and automated machine controls. Throughout his tenure Dominic has lead a number of technical and commercial teams and currently serves as the Director of Strategic Initiatives helping to establish partnerships, relationships and solutions for the future needs of farmers.

Length (approx): 10 min
 
Autonomy/Robotics Panel
Craig Rupp (speaker)
CEO
Sabanto, Inc.
Chicago, IL 60642-5413
US

Craig started his career in 1988 as a hardware engineer at Motorola, designing and developing the first GSM and Iridium mobile stations and John Deere in 2002, developing the Starfire receiver and Greenstar display. 

In 2002, Craig founded ATG, providing RF manufacturing software, acquired by National Instruments in 2005. As a Chief Measurement Architect, he developed AM, FM, RDS, Bluetooth, GSM, EDGE, CDMA2k, EVDO, WCDMA, and LTE solutions.

In 2012, Craig founded 640 Labs, developing the 640 Drive, acquired by Monsanto in 2014. He then made his FieldView Drive one of the most ubiquitous and low-cost data collection devices in agriculture.

In 2018, Craig founded Sabanto, a company that provides autonomous solutions. He was the first to autonomously plant a farmer’s field in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana.

Raised on a farm in Iowa, he earned his BSEE at Iowa State in 1988 and MSEE from Illinois Tech in 1990. He currently has 14 patents.

Santosh Pitla (speaker)
Associate Professor
University of Nebraska Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68583-0726
US

Santosh Pitla is an Associate Professor 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 for multiple operations. Currently, he directs the Advanced Machinery Systems Laboratory (AMSL) at the BSE department comprising of a team six graduate students and five undergraduate students. AMSL lab houses three tiered robotic platforms for developing individual and multi-robot control architectures. These three tiered robotic platforms are operated in greenhouses, and research fields. Santosh also has a teaching appointment and teaches Sensors and Controls in Agri-Industries, Electricity, Hydraulic Power, and Embedded Control Systems to mechanization management and agricultural engineering students.

Dominic Walkes (speaker)
Director of Strategic Initiatives
Raven Industries
Sioux Falls, SD, NA 57104
US

In 2012, Dominic began working for Raven Industries in Sioux Falls, SD, in the Applied Technology Division, working on agriculture-based products that utilize GPS and automated machine controls. Throughout his tenure Dominic has lead a number of technical and commercial teams and currently serves as the Director of Strategic Initiatives helping to establish partnerships, relationships and solutions for the future needs of farmers.

Troy Fiechter (speaker)
CEO
Rogo
West Lafayette, IN, NA 47906
US

As an engineer and farmer, Troy has worked to intersect practicality and innovation to create value on his own commercially sized farm and for many retailers that serve other farmers.  He has started doing this by tightening the screws on fertility with the use of robotics and patented sampling equipment.  He then started Rogo Ag LLC.  Rogo has rapidly expanded to serve retailer's soil sampling needs.  Troy practices how to meaningfully communicate value to farmers and challenge an industry in an area that hasn't changed in many years.

Nick Morrow (speaker)
VP of Product
Verge Ag
Sioux Falls, SD, NA 57108
US

Nick Morrow is VP of Product at Verge Ag. He is responsible for product strategy and development with a focus on grower solutions that simplifies farm planning to reduce in-field decisions. Nick brings over 17 years of agriculture technology expertise, encompassing remote sensing, ag retail sales enablement, and equipment technology. He started his career in 2003 focused on remote sensing collecting and delivering timely, high resolution imagery to advisors as a decision support tool for scouting. At John Deere and then at Raven, he promoted the value of automated data transfer between equipment and 3rd party systems. At Agrian, he led the product team and was responsible for designing, developing and implementing go-to-market strategy for all Agrian products and services. Nick is passionate about leveraging ag technology to make growers’ lives easier through automation and delightful user experiences. He lives in Sioux Falls, SD and is a graduate of Iowa State University in Aerospace Engineering and Colorado State University Masters of Business.

Length (approx): 40 min