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Engineering students win technology prize

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A team of four Harper Adams engineering studentshave won second prize in a European competition for their innovative use ofsatellite technology in agriculture.

James Chapman, Glen Ebsary, James Meadows andMiles Metcalfe entered the Farming by Satellite competition held in Prague lastweek, as part of the European Space Solutions Conference.

They submitted the concept of an autonomousprecision seed planting robot, known as Demeter, that plants seeds withouthuman supervision, uses global navigation satellite system (GNSS) input fornavigation, and has a laser scanner to avoid obstacles.

Miles Metcalfe (23) from Northallerton inNorth Yorkshire, said: We are very pleased and surprised to have won secondprize as the quality of the entries was extremely high. We worked on the project outside of structured teaching and chose to enterafter seeing the competition advertised and hearing of how previous Harperstudents had entered and won prizes. Satellite technology is fast developing withinthe sector and the event proved a good opportunity to network with experts fromthis field.

The students, who are all in the final year of MEng degrees at the universityin Shropshire, received 3000 and were joined by more than 40 entries from 11European and eight African countries.

Demeters base vehicle was constructed as part ofa group research project and its application was then developed specificallyfor the Farming by Satellite competition.  

The students then submitted a 10,000 word reportto reach the short-list, before giving a 10-minute presentation to a panel offive judges at the finals in Prague.

Headof Off Road Vehicle Design and Final Year Senior Tutor, Dr Ianto Guy, said: Weare extremely proud that our students have again been successful in thisinternational competition. Thestudents worked extremely hard to develop the electronic control system forDemeter and have made a significant contribution to the development of HarperAdams as a leader in the field of autonomous off highway machines.

The competition is a European GNSSAgency (GSA) initiative supported by the European Union (EU) and managed by Helios on behalf of the GSA. The aim is to promote the use of the GNSS in agriculture and its benefitsto farmers, consumers, food security and geo-traceability, remote sensingtechnologies, sustainable land management, and the environment. Entries can be about any type of agriculture in any part of Europe orAfrica and the competition is open to all students and young people below theage of 32.

First prize was awarded to Daniel Hege of Geisenheim University in Germany,and third prize to Manuel Penteado from Instituto Superior de Agronomia inPortugal.


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