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Agriculture Ladybird robot

Agriculture and the Environment

Pioneering robotics and AI in agriculture for over 10 years

Our engineers are working on a range of innovative projects involving robotics and intelligent software, such as unpiloted air and ground vehicles for farming specialty crops, trees, livestock, and weed management.


Our robots: RIPPA and Ladybird


Past projects

Using autonomous systems to guide vegetable decision making on farms

Our experts: Professor Salah Sukkarieh, Dr Asher Bender, Dr Richard Murphy, Dr Anna Chilingaryan, Dr Zhe Xu, Mr Steven Potiris, Mr Nathan Wallace, Mr Justin Clarke, Mr Mark Calleija

Our industry partnersHorticulture Innovation Australia

This project examines the application of robotics and intelligent systems to on-farm decision making through advanced sensing and machine perception techniques, decision support systems, mechanisms and robotics for crop interaction and farm automation.

Evaluating and testing autonomous systems developed in Australian vegetable production systems

Our experts: Professor Salah Sukkarieh, Dr Zhe Xu, Mr Steven Potiris, Mr Justin Clarke, Mr George Wakeham, Mr Mark Calleija, Mr Vsevolod Vlaskine, Mr Vinny Do, Mr Matthew Imhoff

Our industry partnersHorticulture Innovation AustraliaRM Consulting GroupTechMac

This project aims to evaluate the technological developments made in the companion project above by trialling and demonstrating the innovations in major vegetable production areas around Australia. This includes examining the intellectual property landscape and commercialisation opportunities, assessing the economic feasibility of adopting these technologies on farms and engaging growers through communications and extension activities.

Multi-scale monitoring tools for managing Australian tree crops

Our experts: Professor Salah Sukkarieh, Dr James Underwood

Our industry partnersHorticulture Innovation Australia

This project looks at integrating the latest sensing and robotic technologies to provide mango, avocado and macadamia farmers with tools to help improve their decision making and improve production and profit. 

Grazing livestock

Our robot: SwagBot


Meet SwagBot

In 2016, the ACFR developed the world’s first cattle station custom robot – SwagBot – an omnidirectional electric robotic ground vehicle, capable of navigating difficult cattle station environments through water crossings and steep ground. Future research will explore SwagBot’s potential in farming practice, including monitoring and interacting with plants and animals.

Our projects

Our experts: Professor Salah Sukkarieh, Dr Yongliang Qiao, Dr Cameron Clark, Matthew Truman

Our industry partners: Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA)

The ACFR is collaborating with the School of Animal Science to investigate how robotic perception technology can improve animal health and welfare in the livestock industries. This MLA-sponsored project is using computer vision and machine learning to develop objective measures of animal welfare from animal appearance and behaviour. Techniques will be refined using data collected in cattle feedlots, with the aim to deploy them remotely in grazing environments later in the project. 

Our experts: Professor Salah Sukkarieh, Matthew Truman

Our industry partners: Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA)

ACFR’s agriculture group has received philanthropic funding towards the development of a prototype robot for grazing livestock farms. The lightweight electric vehicle, SwagBot is fitted with sensors for a range of data collection and farm monitoring tasks including livestock location, pasture measurement and farm infrastructure monitoring. Ground-based platforms can be more beneficial than drones as they have extended range/endurance, whilst having automation capabilities for certain physical tasks, such as targeted weed spraying. The project will demonstrate a prototype user interface, data processing software and data integration with farm mapping tools.

Our experts: Mr John Gardenier, Dr James Underwood, Dr Cameron Clark (Faculty of Science)

Our industry partners: Dairy Australia

Working with Dairy Australia, the ACFR is building a sensor system to detect lameness in cows – a common condition where a disease or injury affects the way a cow walks, causing discomfort to the animal and a reduction in productivity for the dairy.

Small holder farmers

Our robot: Digital Farmhand

Digital Farmhand

Digital Farmhand

The Digital Farmhand is a robot with two electrically-powered wheel modules connected by a telescopic frame, with a smartphone on the top to collect data. The robot can be dismantled and reassembled on site in 10 minutes. The objective is to develop a low-cost robotic and digital technology for row crop applications. In 2016, trials took place in Indonesia to investigate how robotics can be used for farming in a developing country and these trials have continued across Australia.

Our projects

Our experts: Professor Salah Sukkarieh, Muhammad Esa Attia

Farming and agriculture play a big part in the Australian economy and society, holding a unique place in our cultural heritage. The Farmbot for the people project will have a major impact on our farming and rural communities.

The objective of this project is to create low-cost robotic platforms that will make intelligent and innovative robotics accessible to all farmers. This project has received philanthropic funding to provide Australian farmers with technology that will improve their lives through reduced manual labour, crop and animal monitoring, and increased farm intelligence. It will also provide farmers with a generic platform that can be built upon, enabling them to take their farms into the future as well as providing an education tool for the next generation of growers.

Our experts: Professor Salah Sukkarieh, Muhammad Esa Attia

Our industry partners: NSW Department of Industry

The Ag Robotics STEM program aims to encourage high school students in rural areas to take on STEM-related careers especially related to food production, and to close the digital divide between rural and city. The program will see the development of a STEM program related to coding of mobile robotic systems and implementation of a pilot program at three schools.

Our experts: Professor Salah Sukkarieh, Muhammad Esa Attia

Our industry partners: DFAT Innovation Resource Facility  

The goal of this pilot study is to develop the foundations for the successful introduction of the Digital Farmhand into the Pacific Islands in order to gauge at what level this platform could be used to support developing needs. In particular the project will look at undertaking field trials, education and training of the Digital Farmhand system with the aim of identifying how the technology could be used to improve food quality and nutrition. Two Pacific Island communities, Samoa and Fiji, where selected as part of this initial project.              

Our experts: Professor Salah Sukkarieh, Muhammad Esa Attia

Our industry partners: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS)

The ACFR and MAAS are partnering to develop robotics and digital technology that focuses on the future of food production specifically tailored to the education requirements of the Indigenous community. The partnered approach provides a unique opportunity to match the sophistication of traditional Indigenous environmental sciences with new and emerging technologies.


With support from our industry partners, our forestry projects explore the use of sensor-fusion algorithms for estimating forest parameters for high-resolution airborne imagery, LiDAR and photogrammetry.

Our projects

Our experts: Dr Mitch Bryson and Professor Salah Sukkarieh

Our industry partners: Forest and Wood Products Australia, NSW Department of Primary Industries, University of Tasmania

We have developed algorithms that accurately map individual trees from airborne laser scanning and use UAV imagery to assess debris over harvested forests. 

Our experts: Dr Mitch Bryson and Professor Salah Sukkarieh

Our industry partners: Forest and Wood Products Australia, NSW Department of Primary Industries, University of Tasmania, SCION New Zealand

We are currently developing new 3D pointcloud processing techniques for individual tree detection, segmentation and assessment using aerially-acquired, dense pointcloud datasets from airborne laser scanning.

Aerial Systems

The Australian Centre for Field Robotics is working on a range of research projects involving aerial systems to detect, follow and analyse land and animals.

Our projects

Our experts: Professor Salah Sukkarieh

Our industry partnersLand and Water AustraliaThe Council of Australasian Weed SocietiesMeat and Livestock AustraliaNSW Department of Primary IndustriesVIC Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)QLD Department of Agriculture and FisheriesDepartment of Agriculture

The centre has completed more than 10 years of research and development in using drones and machine learning algorithms to detect invasive weeds over large areas.

Our experts: Professor Salah Sukkarieh, Mr Oliver Cliff and Mr Robert Fitch

The centre worked on a project to improve animal tracking using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with Australian National University researchers, funded by an ARC Linkage grant. The wildlife tracking system includes a radio receiver mounted on a multi-rotor UAV. The receiver detects beeps emitted by radio locator tags attached to the animals being tracked. The operator can determine the location of a tagged animal quicker than traditional methods, where the operator had to move the radio receiver on foot.


Professor Salah Sukkarieh
Academic profile and contact details