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25 June 2024

Ministerial visit: Exploring drone swarms and the value of DIREC

The Minister for Digital Government Marie Bjerre recently visited the HERD project at DIREC in Aalborg to gain insights into the value of digital research, the green transition, and drone swarms. The visit is part of DIREC’s initiative to engage decision-makers in funding advanced digital research and innovation.

A sunny June day provided almost ideal conditions for the ministerial visit, which included drone flying in Norden Paris. Here, Digitalization and Equality Minister Marie Bjerre and Aalborg Municipality Council Member Daniel Borup visited the drone company Robotto at Novi Science Park at Aalborg University.

The minister was invited by DIREC to learn about the groundbreaking research and technology being developed in the HERD project, where researchers from SDU, AAU, and CBS collaborate with Robotto, Agrointelli, and the Danish Technological Institute to develop multi-robot systems that benefit both the green transition and national security.

The visit also allowed the minister to gain valuable knowledge about DIREC’s efforts to strengthen research and innovation in digital technology.

Synergy and continuity

During her visit, Marie Bjerre showed significant interest in how robots and artificial intelligence can advance the green transition in agriculture. Gareth Edwards, R&D Team Manager at AgroIntelli, and Anders Lyhne Christensen, Professor at SDU Biorobotics, passionately explained how multi-robot systems are more precise and cause less damage to agricultural land than large machines.

The minister’s engagement was also evident as she discussed the potential for creating more synergy between the various initiatives within Denmark’s ecosystem for digital research and innovation.

She emphasized the importance of continuity in this field. While short-term initiatives with temporary funding create value for Denmark, they are not sufficient. A long-term approach is necessary for competing globally and ensuring a robust digital infrastructure capable of withstanding future challenges.

Controlling the drone swarm
One of the highlights of the visit was a demonstration by PhD student Maria-Theresa Bahodi from the Department of Computer Science at AAU. Bahodi has developed an algorithm that enables the control of multiple drones simultaneously. Using AI, these drones can recognize and respond to “abnormal circumstances.” As a result, multi-robot systems are particularly suitable for search and rescue missions, agriculture, and protecting critical infrastructure. The minister had the opportunity to control a small swarm of drones via a tablet.
For more information about the minister’s visit, you can read TV2 Nord’s article on the event.