Source: Mississippi State University (MSU) news release
A groundbreaking development in agriculture is taking root at Mississippi State University (MSU).
On Thursday, October 26, university officials unveiled the Agricultural Autonomy Institute, a cutting-edge research center that stands as the nation’s first and only interdisciplinary hub focused on autonomous technologies aimed at revolutionizing on-farm precision and efficiency.
This remarkable initiative builds upon MSU’s longstanding commitment to precision agriculture and its rich history of innovation in the field. The Agricultural Autonomy Institute is set to become a bustling nexus for researchers across the campus who are passionate about pioneering technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and remote sensing. These innovations hold the potential to elevate agricultural precision, production, and profitability to unprecedented heights.
Headed by Alex Thomasson, who serves as the director of the Agricultural Autonomy Institute and leads MSU’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, the institute is championing the use of autonomous technologies to address labor shortages by enhancing the efficiency of farm workers through novel systems.
Thomasson explained, “Autonomous systems multiply the productivity of a single farm worker, enabling them to oversee multiple machines and operations simultaneously. The overarching goal of the institute is economic development, attracting agricultural equipment companies and fostering research that will pave the way for technology-based startup companies. Furthermore, it aims to cultivate a new workforce equipped with the skills to thrive in this era of robotics, mechatronics, and computer coding. The aspiration is to transform Mississippi into the Silicon Valley of agricultural autonomy.“
His team of researchers already embarked on a multitude of projects aimed at optimizing agricultural precision, production, and profitability.
The institute boasts an impressive research infrastructure, including a spacious 4,800-square-foot laboratory within the Pace Seed Technology Laboratory, as well as a five-acre proving ground named “Autonomous Acres” located at MSU’s R.R. Foil Plant Science Research Center. The management of the institute is a collaborative effort between the university’s Office of Research and Economic Development and the Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine. Support for this groundbreaking initiative also comes from the Bagley College of Engineering, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, as well as various other MSU institutes, research centers, and departments.