Wageningen University and Tencent Group will once again join hands in the organization of this year's International Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge. Teams from all over the world are set to participate in the third edition of this competition. The challenge this year is the fully automated greenhouse production of lettuce, with help from AI, but without manual input. This international competition displays the most advanced modern agricultural technology. The international Veggiemight team, with a core of Chinese members, will participate in the competition as well and take on this seemingly-impossible challenge.
Many teams have already proved themselves during the first two editions of this international competition, but the Veggiemight team is not to be outdone by established growers with years of experience in the fields of greenhouse plantation and AI technology. However, because of technological limits, teams in previous editions could not help but add a human element to their solution. This year the requirements are even higher. The goal is to come up with a solution that is completely automated and fully autonomous. The solution requires teams to combine experience in greenhouse plantation with programming skills. And the teams will display their most innovative solutions in these fields during the challenge.
Veggiemight consists of members from Quantum, Polaris (Beijing), Horticompass, Robolect B.V., and Wageningen University. The team combines accomplished engineers in the field of AI with experienced agricultural specialists. The Veggiemight team is taking the last steps in their solution for fully autonomous AI greenhouse production of lettuce.
The '24 hour hackathon' was one of the stages of the competition. 17 teams with a total of 180 selected members from 18 different countries had 24 hours to program lettuce production in a virtual greenhouse. Only five teams went through to the final round of the challenge. Not only did the 'hackathon' test the teams on their knowledge and experience of AI and greenhouse agriculture, but the most important element was team work. The members of the winning teams showed that they could successfully work together.
The 'hackathon' stage of the competition concluded in November 2021. The Veggiemight team provided the swiftest and most efficient solution. They finished fourth! And they were the only Chinese team to make it through to the last round. In the last phase of the 'hackathon', the Veggiemight team found a loophole in the rules and regulations of the challenge, but upholding fair play principles, the team did not take advantage of the loophole, but informed the organizers instead. They were elected as the 'fair play team' of the challenge.
Greenhouse growing experiment
The last round of the challenge will commence in February, 2022. Veggiemight will compete with teams from the USA, Russia, and Korea. The organizers will provide an AI greenhouse for each of the five teams and the experiment will continue for two crop-cycles. The five team will use the AI algorithms they tested during the 'hackathon' to grow lettuce in their AI greenhouse without any manual interference. They will be judged on the basis of production volume, product quality, and sustainability. The winner will be selected in the summer of 2022.
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