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Eureka and bilateral calls: an Argentine fruit-producing company is looking for a technology partner from Germany, Spain or Israel to develop an autonomous vehicle with IoT technology to improve crops at all stages.

Country of Origin: Argentina
Reference Number: RDAR20190919001
Publication Date: 19 September 2019

Summary

An Argentine fruit-producing company based in Patagonia with R&D capabilities in the field of image and data processing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) aims to develop an autonomous vehicle to collect data that will help improve the quality and quantity of fruit in plantations in all growth stages.
A partner with know-how in autonomous vehicle technologies is sought to enter an R&D agreement under the Eureka and bilateral calls between Argentina and Spain or Israel or Germany.

Description

To produce fruits with the caliber and quality required by the market, it is necessary to have accurate and real-time information on quantities, volumes, qualities, maturity, damage, pests and diseases. 
In fruit farming, early pest and disease detection helps prevent problems and minimize their negative impacts. Flower counting is done to support thinning decisions and thus improve fruit quality in areas where flowers compete with each other for developing fruit. The automated analysis of both factors, i.e. early detection and flower counting, enhances the complete process. In addition, once fruits advance in growth, counting is useful to estimate the quantity to be harvested and make logistics arrangements for harvesting and packaging to optimize results.
Currently, most work is done by hand and in the global context, where labor is scarce and poorly qualified, not enough data is available to achieve the best results.
The Argentine company has envisaged a technological solution engineered to deal with this constrains.
The project aims to develop an autonomous vehicle that will run around fruit tree plantations to generate a systematized information database including the condition of each tree. This database will allow decision making at all growth stages, from fruit set to harvest and subsequent logistics.
This information will optimize integration of sales plans and purchase of materials, estimation of the required workforce for farms and packing-houses, cold storage reserves and transportation planning.
The Argentine partner has experience in data processing, image processing, telecommunication facilities and cyber-physical system development that include sensors that collect data from the real world.
The search is aimed at a partner, based in Israel, Germany or Spain, that can contribute to the development of a suitable vehicle for working in farms, taking into account the usual conditions of the land and free space for moving. The partner must have experience in the development of self-driving technologies that can be complemented with the Argentine company's know-how in images and data processing and fruits crops
At a first approach, the vehicle should be controlled based on positioning parameters and obstacle sensor readings, with processing of the surrounding images. It should have electric motors that respond immediately to the commands received.
The Argentine partner has 1,200 hectares of fruit trees (mostly pear and apple trees) for prototype testing and validation.
The final customers of the proposed solution are fruit producers from Latin America and Europe. The solution will first be used for apple and pear trees. At a later stage, after the prototype is validated, it can be offered to other producers worldwide. Other fruit species can be added simply by retraining the neural networks that perform the detection and modifying the respective alert parameters.
The company is interested in applying to Eureka calls between Argentina and Spain or Argentina and Israel with submission deadlines on October 18 and December 12 respectively, or under the Argentina-Germany bilateral call until October 18 to obtain funding with an expression of interest deadline October 11 2019
The project is planned to start in the first months of next year, and the estimated project duration is about 30 months.
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Advantages and Innovations

Nowadays plant wellbeing analysis is carried out by experts, who must go around the fruit fields observing and recording the conditions of the plants. In a context where the availability of experts is limited, it is only possible to take limited samples from the entire plantation.

The proposed self-driving vehicle will systematically cover the entire cultivated field, analyzing and recording the status of each plant. It will provide data on the complete plantation at different times to move from estimates to real data for better decision making, thus dispensing with the need to rely on the eye of the experts.
Making decisions based on concrete data will revolutionize fruit growing worldwide.
Base technologies to be integrated into a prototype include image recognition and processing, AI­based neural networks, autonomous driving and automatic control technologies, Internet of Things, long range telecommunications, among others, with such integration representing a technological challenge with high associated risks.

Stage Of Development

Concept stage

Requested partner

The search is aimed at an SME, a large company or research institution with strong development skills and knowledge in the field of autonomous vehicles, and experience in custom design of vehicles for outdoor work, covering long distances. Experience in designs including electric motors, water-, wind- and earth-resistant chassis – preferably with widely used electronic components and standard batteries – is a must.

Dissemination Countries

Germany, Spain, Israel

Cooperation offer ist closed for requests