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WSU scientist recognized as AI pioneer by ‘Connected World’

Karkee standing next to flying drone on table.
Named a 2019 Pioneer by Connected World, WSU scientist Manoj Karkee develops machines and software that improve the way we grow our food.

By Seth Truscott, College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Discovering new ways for machines to boost productivity and conserve resources on Northwest farms and orchards, has earned Manoj Karkee, a Washington State University scientist, recognition as a 2019 Pioneer in artificial intelligence and the “Internet of Things” by Connected World magazine.

Karkee was one of 11 scientists in the U.S. and Canada to receive the recognition from Connected World, an online journal. This year’s Pioneer awards noted prominent educators who advance and study digital transformations, machine intelligence and the “Internet of Things” (IoT) — the Web of connected machines that increasingly powers our society.

“I’m honored and humbled at being named a pioneer by Connected World,” Karkee said.

“Robots and software, sensors and wireless communication are changing the way we grow our food, and offer exciting new ways to solve challenges in sustainability and production,” he added. “It’s been my privilege to study this fast‑changing field for more than 20 years, and the potential is greater now than ever.”

Recognition of Karkee as a 2019 Pioneer underscores the significance of discoveries at WSU’s Department of Biological Systems Engineering and the WSU Center for Precision Automated Agricultural Systems to save labor, conserve natural resources and improve farm productivity and efficiency.

Based at WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser, Wash., Karkee and his team of students, scientists and technicians solve challenges in agriculture using robotics, automation and smart technology.

Among his projects, Karkee is building apple‑picking robots, smart irrigation systems for grapes and fruit trees, flying drones to deter birds from fruit crops, and machines to bundle red raspberries. Just as important as building machines, he develops artificial intelligence for field agriculture, creating the software that tells agricultural robots how to do their work.

As a leader in agricultural automation, Karkee is helping connect and inspire other scientists. As part of WSU’s Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems, he organizes and leads annual workshops and international conferences on robotics and automation.

Most recently, Karkee was named a co‑director of the newly announced Joint Center for Agricultural Robotics, a partnership between WSU and Australia’s University of Technology Sydney.

A researcher at WSU since 2010, Karkee is originally from Nepal, and holds an associate degree in civil engineering and undergraduate degree in computer engineering at Tribhuvan University, Nepal; a graduate degree in remote sensing and GIS at the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand; and a doctorate in agricultural engineering and human-computer interaction at Iowa State University.

Learn more about his research on WSU’s Biological Systems Engineering website.


Media Contact:

  • Manoj Karkee, associate professor, Biological Systems Engineering, 509‑786‑9208,

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