Ethics, adoption and ecosystems

Robotics and artificial intelligence offer plenty of opportunities to make the agrifood sector smarter, more efficient and more productive. Agrofood Robotics, from Wageningen University & Research, connects governments, sector organisations and companies. From the design phase onwards, economic, ethical and social opportunities and challenges are incorporated into the solution. This leads to a more effective application of robotics and improved scalability.

Identifying ethical questions

How do you convince arable farmers that robots can add value to crop growing? What impact will robots have on employment and working conditions in agriculture and the food industry? How do you ensure that robots, humans, animals and plants work together optimally? Which business models will be successful in the robot market of the future?

The success of new applications depends on an open and honest connection between technology, ethics and the economy. Agrofood Robotics offers governments, sector organisations and companies the knowledge, insight and tools to identify ethical and social dilemmas surrounding robots and artificial intelligence - early in the design process - and to enter into a dialogue with end users and other stakeholders. We also show existing and future market opportunities for socially-desirable, ethically-responsible robotics. In this way, we increase the chance that innovations will actually be put into use.

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Value-driven design

From value-driven, ethical design to value-creating business models: Agrofood Robotics is a reliable, internationally-recognised partner for governments, sector organisations and companies in the development and deployment of robotics and artificial intelligence in agrifood. Our experts have an unparalleled knowledge of the agrifood sector and a deep and practical understanding of all elements of the design of robot systems, computer vision and artificial intelligence.

Our team of robotics experts are constantly tracking scientifically-substantiated developments in robotics and artificial intelligence for crop production, animal husbandry and the food industry, and uconnecting these with the ethical and social dilemmas involved in new applications. They map the wishes and needs of end users and other stakeholders, translate these into guidelines for value-driven design and guide organisations in the ongoing design process. Our team also brings parties together in their ambition to enlarge the application of robotics in agrifood, for example by sharing experiences and building new business models using high-value data.

Optimal interaction between robot, human, plant and animal

Value-driven design for robots in agrifood was a key point-of-reference in the KB Robotics project (2019-2020). In this project, various research groups at Wageningen University & Research are jointly investigating how to make robot systems self-learning. We believe this will lead to optimal interaction between robot, human, plant and animal.

Creating an ecosystem that accelerates robotisation in agrifood. That is the aim of the agROBOfood project (2019-2024). The project has more than 120 European partners and is coordinated by Agrofood Robotics from Wageningen University & Research. A network of Digital Innovation Hubs stimulates robot development for agrifood. We do this through technical training, demonstrations, webinars, joint research programmes, business support and regional ecosystem development. Examples include robots for the quality assessment and harvesting of fruit, and a drone that monitors the condition of vineyards.

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Insight into the ethical and societal dilemmas surrounding robotisation in agriculture, and practical tools to engage in dialogue with end users and other stakeholders. These are the main outcomes of two European projects: Internet of Food and Farm 2020 (, 2017-2020) and Smart Agrihubs (, coordinated by Agro Food robotics of Wageningen University & Research. The tools will be available online from 2021 onwards.