For the past three Junes, the fair les Culturales (that for 14 years has presented technical and innovative expertise and solutions to crop farmers) hosts the Rob’Olympiades, a “robotic joust” reserved for students. This contest, organized each year in June in the middle of a field, offers an opportunity to students in agronomic, electronic or mechanic schools to express their technical creativity.
Organized by Irstea, the National Institute for Environmental and Agricultural Science and Research, and Arvalis, the technical institute for field crops (French equivalent of an extension center, also dealing with economic analysis), this competition has the goal of encouraging discussion around agricultural robotics between higher education, business and research. Over six months, with the support of professionals, students develop a robot capable of dealing with a specific problem written in advance. On the day of the event, the teams challenge each other.
“This competition opens a path to numerous opportunities,” explains Bernard Benet, a member of the jury and research engineer in the robotics department of Irstea. “The day of the competition, the students discuss their robots with different schools, farmers, and constructors of agricultural equipment who are present. This allows to open them up to new ideas and ways of thinking in the domain of robotics.”
For the 2019 event, the participating teams were from different engineering schools in agronomy, informatics and mechanics.