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BayWa and RWA announce finalists Robotic Challenge

The finalists of the first Robotic Challenge of the Agro Innovation Lab (AIL) have been selected.

The finalists of the first Robotic Challenge of the Agro Innovation Lab (AIL) have been selected: 6 technology companies from Europe and overseas have been selected to further develop the agricultural robots towards market maturity.

650 startups in 60 countries

The AIL is the joint innovation platform of BayWa AG and RWA Raiffeisen Ware Austria AG and has attracted around 650 start-ups from over 60 countries with its broad-based Acceleration & Market Entry programme since 2016. With the Robotic Challenge, the Accelerator is focusing for the first time on a specific technology area.

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AIL Chairman Christoph Metzker (2nd from left) and AIL CEO David Saad (3rd from right) with participants of the AIL Robotics Challenge 2019. - Photos: Georges Schneider
AIL Chairman Christoph Metzker (2nd from left) and AIL CEO David Saad (3rd from right) with participants of the AIL Robotics Challenge 2019. - Photos: Georges Schneider

“Robotics offers very interesting application possibilities, especially for agriculture here in Germany,” says BayWa AG CEO Klaus Josef Lutz. “We want to provide our customers with access to these innovative agricultural solutions at an early stage, thus making farming as a whole more modern, efficient and attractive.”

“It is time to look into agricultural robotics and its areas of application in Germany and Austria as well in order to participate at an early stage”, says AIL Managing Director David Saad. “The participants in our Robotic Challenge clearly show that robotics is already very advanced in certain sub-areas of agriculture”.

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The Robotti by Agrointelli is an autonomous and versatile implement carrier to which sowing, fertilising, weed control and harvesting machinery can be attached.
The Robotti by Agrointelli is an autonomous and versatile implement carrier to which sowing, fertilising, weed control and harvesting machinery can be attached.

Multi-week screening process

As part of a multi-week screening process, AIL has identified 127 technology companies around the world who work on robots for harvesting, weed control and related applications in crops, fruit and vegetable.

34 of these companies have applied to participate in the Robotic Challenge. From these 6 finalists were selected:

  • Agrointelli, Denmark / “Robotti”: Development of an autonomous and versatile tool carrier to which machines for sowing, fertilising, weed control and harvesting can be attached. This means that this robot can be used in both arable and vegetable farming.
  • Cerescon, The Netherlands / “Sparter”: Development of a robot for harvesting white asparagus. The robot, attached to a tractor, uses sensors to detect the ripe asparagus on the surface. The asparagus is harvested independently by the robot after reaching an appropriate minimum size, whereby two to three rows can be processed in parallel.
  • Deepfield Robotics, Germany: Development of robots that autonomously control weeds in row crops. By accessing 4.3 million recorded images, the robots can distinguish between 35 different plant species.
  • Mascor, FH Aachen, Germany / “Etarob”: Development of a robot for selective weed control based on electrophysical principles that can be used in all weather conditions and at night. This can be used in row crops or in vegetable cultivation between the rows. Further developments focus on selective fertilisation and in particular the harvesting of iceberg lettuce and potatoes.
  • Saga Robotics, Norway: Development of modular robots for UV treatment against mildew and autonomous harvesting of strawberries. These are suitable for use in glass and foil houses as well as in orchards and on arable land.
  • Tensorfield, USA / Hong Kong: Development of autonomous robots for thermal weed control in row crops using heated food grade rapeseed oil. Development of visual recognition in vegetable plants and specialisation in spinach and Roman salad.

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The Oz weeding robot helps you during weeding and hoeing chores.
The Oz weeding robot helps you during weeding and hoeing chores.

Robots tested in field trials

During the summer, the agricultural robots will be intensively tested in field trials, technically adapted and their market presence or, in a next step, their market launch prepared. The winners of the competition will be announced in mid-September. A later sales cooperation with or investment by BayWa and RWA is possible.

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