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Liam O'Callaghan

BY LIAM O'CALLAGHAN

Monday 9th August 2021, 04:26 London

AI powers new AeroFarms partnership

Collaboration with Nokia will utilise artificial intelligence-enabled planet vision technology in vertical farms

AI powers new AeroFarms partnership

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AeroFarms and Nokia Bell Labs have unveiled a multi-year partnership to leverage the latest artificial technology for vertical farming.

Autonomous systems plus integrated machine vision and machine learning technologies will be used to identify and track plant interactions at the most advanced levels.

As part of the partnership, US-based AeroFarms will contribute its commercial growing expertise, comprehensive environmental controls, an agriculture-focused data platform and machine vision core foundation.

Nokia Bell Labs - the industrial research arm of Nokia – will contribute its autonomous drone control and orchestration systems, private wireless networks, robust image and sensor data pipelines, and innovative artificial intelligence (AI) enabled mobile sensor technologies.

AeroFarms and Nokia Bell Labs have been working together since 2020 and have achieved a proof-of-concept for their state-of-the-art integrated system and have tested the technologies with AeroFarms’ current commercial crop varieties.

The pair are now ready to scale this system to all of AeroFarms’ crops and future indoor vertical farms, including the next ones in Danville, Virginia and Abu Dhabi, UAE.

David Rosenberg, chief executive of AeroFarms, said though his combination of technologies AeroFarms aims to reach the next level of imaging insights to further enhance its capabilities as an operator of fully-connected smart vertical farms.

“With Nokia Bell Labs, we have developed the next-generation system that can image every plant every day in a cost-effective way at scale,” said Rosenberg.

“This level of detailed imaging and insights helps us be better farmers by monitoring our plant biology dynamically and allowing us to course correct as needed to ensure the highest level of quality all year round.

“When I watch the drones autonomously imaging our plants, I am blown away by how this truly represents the power of harnessing leading-edge technologies and bringing brilliant problem solvers together from diverse groups to grow the best plants possible.”

Nokia Bell Labs’ machine vision technology has enabled precise data capture down to the level of individual plants, using leaf size segmentation, quantification, and pixel-based scanning to identify consistency and variation.

This imaging technology allows the gathering of significant insights about a plant including its leaf size, stem length, coloration, curvature, spotting, and tearing.

Thierry Klein, Nokia’s vice president of integrated solutions and experiences research lab, said the company is driven to solve hard and impactful problems,

“Together with AeroFarms, we are building the ability to see and identify plant interactions at unprecedented levels. The fundamental technologies of this partnership are our strength, and vertical farming is just the beginning,” said Klein.

“With the AeroFarms platform, we are exploring the power of network driven intelligence for industrial outcomes. These capabilities can expand into a multitude of indoor industrial operations, including logistics, warehousing, distribution hubs, and manufacturing.”

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