Mississippi State University (MSU) has opened the nation’s first interdisciplinary research center for autonomous technologies to enhance on-farm precision and efficiency. The new Agricultural Autonomy Institute builds on MSU’s track record in research and precision agriculture, serving as a hub for researchers from across the campus interested in exploring robotics, artificial intelligence, remote sensing and other innovations.

Alex Thomasson, Agricultural Autonomy Institute director and head of MSU’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, says that the Institute aims to boost production and profitability in the industry by making current farm workers more efficient. This will reduce the impacts of labor shortages and enable farmers to keep up with the food demands of a growing population.

Thomasson also hopes the new facility will boost economic development in the state.

“We want to attract agricultural equipment companies, and we want to conduct research that leads to technology-based startup companies. We want to develop a new workforce that will have the ability to work in this new world of robotics, mechatronics and computer coding. I really hope to see Mississippi become the Silicon Valley of agricultural autonomy.”