With a view to fostering cutting-edge solutions in agriculture, The Agro Innovation Lab (AIL), has announced a special new format: a 2019 Robotics Challenge focused on implementing these technologies in agricultural processes.
Specifically, the innovation platform's new competition will center around how robotics can be used to advance autonomous weed control as well as fruit and vegetable harvesting. Excelling participants can win a sales cooperation with AIL's joint owners, German building company BayWa AG and RWA Raiffeisen Ware Austria AG, or an investment.
Explaining the necessity of this groundbreaking contest, Klaus Josef Lutz, chairman of BayWa AG, says “We need automation and the use of artificial intelligence to achieve the sustainability objectives in agriculture.”
According to the company, robotics can also help relieve employees of heavy physical work and counteract the labor shortage that has already impacted the specialized crop area.
“We invest in this still nascent area to pave the way for the best solutions to be applied and thus provide them early to farmers in our home market”, says Lutz.
In fact, BayWa is already using robots on the plantation of its New Zealand subsidiary T&G Global to harvest apples.
“In an industrial comparison, agriculture has the fourth largest potential for automation”, says AIL managing director David Saad. “Our aim is to occupy this rapidly growing business area early on and to gain a pioneering lead in the use of robotics in agriculture.”
Companies who have robotic prototypes they consider suitable for the challenge can apply online here by April 23.
After the submissions have been received, an AIL jury will select the most promising solutions, which will be tested in practice this summer, with field trials taking place in agricultural areas in Germany and/or Austria.
Winners will be announced at the concluding Robotics Challenge event in Munich this September.