EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Agri-Food Robotics: AgriFoRwArdS - Alex Elias

Alex Elias

  • University of Lincoln

Research Interests

Alex’s research interests include, soft robotics, robot-human interaction/collaboration, virtual & augmented reality, and autonomous vehicles.

Posters

  • AgriFoRwArdS CDT Annual Conference (2022): Exploring trust towards TIAGo’s behaviour during the completion of an agriculture-related task.

Other Activities and Outputs

About me

Hi I’m Alex, I am originally from Wales and I’ve spent the last 4 years studying in Bristol at the University of the West of England completing my BEng in Robotics. I applied for the CDT program which includes a year in Lincoln to complete my Masters which will start this October, I’m extremely passionate to be able to further my academic journey with this program as well as start my profession career. I am looking forward to starting this program as it will allow me to refine my skills while allowing me to focus on the area of agri-food robotics that I find most interesting.

MSc Project

Exploring trust towards TIAGo’s behaviour during the completion of an agricultural-related task

As fully autonomous systems are yet to be a viable solution for agricultural tasks the synergy between robots and humans is vital if they are going to be used within the agricultural sector. In this project, we address the importance of trust in human-robot interaction within the behaviour of TIAGo while it is completing an agricultural task. During an interaction with TIAGo, two sample groups will be monitored, one made up of the general public and the other made up of specialists in the field of robotics or agriculture, to help diversify findings and draw conclusions about contributing factors of trust in robots performing agricultural tasks.

PhD Project

Co-creation and trust to address regulatory, ethical and interactional challenges in Digital Farming

The main obstacles to the utilization of agricultural robots are to be identified in this research. With this, I will investigate ways to enhance the design of these systems and the way they are implemented while considering issues of regulation, law, ethics, accessibility, and user engagement. To avoid under- and over-trust, it will investigate the construct of trust in this area and examine enablers and inhibitors that may help create an environment where trust levels are suitable. From the start of this project, it will be expected that there will be a close collaboration with stakeholders and end users using a co-research and co-design methodology. Additionally, it is anticipated that ROS for Human-Robot Interaction (or ROS4HRI) will be utilized and contribute to its development, working closely with PAL Robotics. 

Although the potential contribution of robots to agriculture is large there are factors such as sustainability and social, legal, and ethical issues that threaten adoption. It is more than just the technical abilities of these robots that need to be researched and evaluated before they get integrated into an industrial setting.  

Throughout the PhD there are multiple different objectives that will be aimed to be met: 

  • Systematic Review: On HRI studies in Digital farming.
  • Trust: Robots lack an emotive state, which can make it hard to trust (expanding on MSc project)
  • Health & Safety: Danger to workers or the public
  • Regulation: Difficult to regulate a farm environment, and difficult to determine responsibility
  • Social & Cultural: Some farmers are left behind, loss of culture, and new stress created by technology. 

Alex’s PhD project is being carried out with primary supervision by Marisé Galvez Trigo.