"Van der Hoeven excels in Artificial Intelligence during the competition"
Never before has a team including a company that designs and delivers turnkey greenhouse projects, won the Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge. During this competition, artificial intelligence (AI) takes on human operated horticulture by growing cherry tomatoes in a fully automated greenhouse. Through the development of algorithms and with the use of data, tomatoes have successfully been grown without human interference. It was announced this morning that the jury had selected Team Automatoes as the overall winner of this year’s competition by a unanimous decision.
Leonard Baart de la Faille is R&D engineer at Van der Hoeven and has been involved in this challenge from the very beginning as Automatoes’ team captain. Other team members originate from KeyGene, Hoogendoorn Growth Management and TU Delft. Van der Hoeven strongly believes in the application of data and algorithms for crop management: “We have taken a huge step in the right direction and with the knowledge we have obtained, we can optimize our crop consultancy through the use of data,” says Leonard.
In September 2019, the Challenge final was reached, where 16 teams dropped out and 5 teams remained. The remaining 4 contenders were left behind during the final ceremony this Monday. Performance was judged on topics such as functionality, AI strategy, innovation, scalability and profitability. Jury chairman Leo Marcelis commented that Team Automatoes has built a robust system with solid engineering, in which the plant takes on a central role. The developed AI strategy is scalable and highly applicable worldwide, the jury stated.
This aligns well with the international approach of Van der Hoeven Horticultural Projects. The complexity of designing and building worldwide projects such as Sundrop in Australia and Sara in Japan is high. “Innovative, challenging and global projects are an excellent match for Van der Hoeven. Crop consultancy is an essential component in supporting our customers and we have noticed that it elevates them to a higher level of productivity. The combination of cultivation experts, R&D and artificial intelligence enables us to optimize the return for the investor, which fits in perfectly with Van der Hoeven's strategy, ”says Leonard.