Center for Digital Agriculture

Girish Chowdhary Awared with Paul Funk Faculty Award for Excellence in Research

Center for Digital Agriculture faculty affiliate, Chief Scientist for the Illinois Autonomous Farm, and AIFARMS Thrust 1 lead, Dr. Girish Chowdhary has won the 2021 Paul Funk Faculty Award for Excellence in Research from the Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

“I am greatly honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Chowdhary. “A key application of my group’s research in field-robotics is to create new options for farmers in the form of small mobile robots. We are pursuing novel techniques that bring together robotics, AI, and agricultural engineering. This recognition from ACES of the progress we are making towards this goal is highly encouraging, and exemplary of the interdisciplinary work that Illinois is known for.”

Chowdhary, who holds a joint appointment with computer science and agricultural and biological engineering (ABE), has an impressive track record of creating collaborating teams of autonomous field robots for agricultural, defense, exploration, and other outdoor operations. These robots incorporate AI, learning, estimation, and control algorithms in order to solve real-world challenges in harsh, uncertain, and constantly changing environments.

In recent years, he is perhaps best known for his creation of the TerraSentia robot, a compact and teachable class of robot that uses a number of sensors to collect data on crop health, as well as machine learning-based analytics to convert this data into actionable insights for farmers. TerraSentia robots autonomously move through rows of corn under the plant canopy, where GPS is less effective in guiding their movements. 

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