EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Agri-Food Robotics: AgriFoRwArdS - Vijja Wichitwechkarn

Vijja (Pat) Wichitwechkarn

  • University of Cambridge

Research Interests

Vijja’s research interests include; vertical farming, urban farming, controlled-environment farming, robotics and automation, computer vision, generalisation in neural networks.

Posters

  • AgriFoRwArdS CDT Annual Conference (2022): Making MACARONS: Modular Automated Crop Array Online System.

About me

My name is Pat, and I am from Thailand.  Before applying to the CDT, I worked on a wide range of topics including superconductors, quantum computing and microfluidics.  Eventually I became interested in artificial intelligence and have been working on this ever since. Currently, I am developing neuromorphic controllers for unmanned aerial vehicles, which will equip them with the ability to adapt to unforeseen conditions.

My goal is to help address the labour shortage associated with farming and alleviate the stress on the industry due to the growing population. I aim to do this by contributing to the research on controlled environment vertical farming and how machine learning, robotics and physics can be utilised to improve efficiency, minimise waste and reduce cost. I believe that a move in this direction is crucial if we are to make important energy-intensive crops economically feasible in vertical farms.

I will be studying my PhD at the University of Cambridge. I also did my undergraduate and master’s degree there and I miss it so much that I am going back again! I am looking forward to my time at the University of Lincoln and am super excited to meet everyone in the CDT community.

When I am free, I like working on fun side-projects such as creating AI-generated art and music visualisations. If you have any cool AI-related ideas and would like to work on something together, please get in touch!  I am also a bit of a coffee fanatic, and I am looking forward to checking out every single café in Lincoln.  I also play computer games and watch anime from time to time.

MSc Project

Making MACARONS: Modular Automated Crop Array Online System

To accelerate the optimisation of energy use and reduce the setup and operational cost of vertical farms, there is demand for an automated, standardised and highly flexible system that can be fit to a wide variety of spaces available in the urban fabric without the need for construction of dedicated buildings. The system should also be constructed cheaply out of readily available parts with an online backend that allows for the control, collection of data and analysis in a standardised format. This work aims to design, build, and test a modular automated crop array online system (MACARONS) which will be used to accelerate research and optimisation in vertical farms.

PhD Project

Crop-agnostic optimisation for vertical farms

The global population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, 70% of which is expected to live in urban areas. To accommodate for this, it is expected that the global amount of food produced will have to increase by more than 50% of the current level of today. There is a need for research into more efficient and resilient means of food production such as through vertical farms. 

To accelerate research in this area, there is a demand for a highly automated vertical farming platform that can be cost-effectively constructed out of readily available parts. This project aims to design and build MACARONS – modular automated crop array online system. The system will be constructed in the OHMC and software developed to aid the optimisation of vertical farms through the use of machine learning and digital twins that integrate physics-based models with data.

Vijja’s PhD project is being carried out in collaboration with Zero Carbon Farms, with primary supervision by Dr Ruchi Choudhary.