The University of Florida plans a Hillsborough facility for artificial intelligence in agriculture

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Sweetwater Organic Farm in Tampa. By Sean Kinane.

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is gearing up to build a new Center for Applied Artificial Intelligence that would bolster the use of artificial intelligence in agriculture.

The facility is planned to be built in Wimauma, a rural area in Hillsborough County.

A request for proposals published Wednesday for the roughly $20 million construction project said the 34,000-square-foot facility would include “office, research and meeting space” and provide housing for about 32 graduate students.

“The facility will include a state-of-the-art research shop equipped with the equipment necessary to design and build robotic technologies for agriculture, meeting space to be used as a central hub for training in AI and robotic technologies, as well as offices and open concept work areas,” the proposal said.

Robert Gilbert, dean for research at what is commonly known as UF/IFAS, said the facility would be part of an effort to make UF/IFAS “the recognized leader” in the application of artificial intelligence for agriculture.

“The facility and associated faculty will develop programs in robotics, precision agriculture and plant breeding that will accelerate agricultural technologies for not only our strawberry and tomato industries in the region but the breadth of agricultural enterprises around the state,” said Gilbert, who also is director of the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of UF/IFAS.

©2023 The News Service of Florida

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