Industrial Designer and Robotic Innovator Owen Bawden visited the Jump Start students to share his knowledge and experience in working on an innovative agricultural project; QUT's Agbot II.
His visit was highly inspirational for the Jump Start students who are currently working on a project that seeks to tackle the wicked problem of food waste and transform our relationship with food.
Owen spoke passionately about some of the challenges farmers face as well as stepping students through the different components that allow the Agbot to manage crops effectively. The state of the art technology and design impressed the students who eagerly asked an array of questions.
Owen is part of the Strategic Investment in Farm Robotics (SIFR) program at QUT, and has been researching, designing, engineering and prototyping a lightweight, modular robotic vehicle for the sustainable intensification of broadacre agriculture. Incorporating aspects of engineering and industrial design practices, this project applied a user-centred design model, weaving human factors into technical problem solving. This approach to innovation draws from the designer's and engineer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.
The AgBot II was developed to work in fleets and improve energy consumption, reduce labour, and increase efficiency in the application of inputs for the management of crops. The platform is a lightweight and energy efficient robotic vehicle with a configurable, modular design. It's capable of undertaking a range of agricultural tasks, including fertilising and weed management through mechanical intervention and precision spraying, whilst being more than an order of magnitude lower in weight than existing broadacre agricultural equipment.
An in-class design challenge
After gaining a strong understanding of the project, students were given a team design challenge which saw them brainstorming and conceptualising a new component of the Agbot. The ideas were then presented to the class and perhaps one day, the students may find themselves working at the forefront of leading, world changing design solutions.
We'd like to thank Owen for his valuable time, for sharing his prototypes, sketches and process and inspiring the next generation of future designers and entrepreneurs.