Hackathon @WUR Bleiswijk

Comparable to the first and second edition of the Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge, a selection process (24-hours Hackathon, physical gathering @WUR Bleiswijk, if possible) will be organized. The aim of the 24-hours Hackathon event is to select up to 5 teams for the real Greenhouse Growing Experiment. Other aims are, to connect participants form AI and horticulture and different cultural backgrounds, to exchange knowledge and stimulate interaction. AI skills will be tested by producing a greenhouse lettuce crop virtually.

Preselection of teams

During the Hackathon teams will be scored based on pre-defined criteria (e.g. goal could be maximum net profit). Next to that, teams will have to present themselves and pitch their AI approach in front of an international jury. The jury will consist of international experts well-known in horticulture and AI. Teams will have to develop their own AI to fulfil the goal of the Hackathon and for evaluation by the jury. The 5 teams with the highest scores will win access to the Greenhouse Growing Experiment.

Teams and results

17 teams from all over the world have registered, but the experiments in the greenhouses are only open for the 5 best teams. To select the top five teams, a pre-selection takes place on 4 & 5 November during in a Hackathon format.

The event involves a total of 140 participants from 18 nationalities, from horticultural industry, start-up companies or larger companies and a large number of BSc, MSc and PhD students and researchers from different universities. In general, the teams have expertise in horticulture and artificial intelligence. The participating teams are from the United States as well as Europe and Asia.

We have teams from Russia, from China (different universities such as Harbin Institute of Technology, Zhejiang University, China Agricultural University, Tongji University etc.), from South Korea (Universal Robots, Croft, Motion2AI, universities such as Gyenggi, Kangwon, Pusan University), but also many participants from the U.S. during this year’s edition (well-known universities such as MIT, Stanford, Cornell, UC Davis). European teams are mainly from The Netherlands (Delft University, Eindhoven University, VU Amsterdam, Maastricht University, some Wageningen University students, One Planet Research Centre etc.), from Belgium (Ghent University, BASF etc.) and Germany (TU Munich).

During the Hackathon, 5 teams have been selected by the jury for the next round, in which they have to grow lettuce toes in a greenhouse compartment fully autonomously and in reality. The 5 winning teams are:

  • Team CVA won the first place with 87 points. They ranked second place in the summer Online Challenge and once again showed a consistent performance in the hackathon. Team CVA – short for Crop Vision and Automation – comes from Korea and consists of team members of Gyenggi University of Science and Technology, Agri-Food Human Resource Development Institute Croft, Motion2AI and Universal robots. Some members were also part of teams in the former edition.
  • Team digital_cucumber, although a strange name, were able to grow lettuce digitally and ranked second in the Hackathon. The team comes from Russia and has members of Russian Agricultural Bank, HSE University, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russian State Agrarian University, Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.
  • Team MondayLettuce is from Korea and consists of members from Kangwon National University, Pusan National University and ioCrops.
  • Team VeggieMight has team members with different nationalities (coming from different Ukranian companies, such as Quantum, HortiPolaris, Horticompass Agri-tech Consultancy, Robolect B.V., and students from Wageningen University and Research). They finished their task in the Hackathon the fastest.
  • Team Koala won a wild card during the summer Online Challenge. This Online Challenge served as a preparation for the current Hackathon. It included optimised climate control, but also the development of computer vision algorithms for automated extraction of plant traits from lettuce images. Team captain of team 'Koala' is Kenneth Tran, who also led the winning team 'Sonoma' in the first edition of the Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge in 2019. Congratulations to him and all team members (Neil Mattson, Minh Duong, Hanh Bui, Tim Shelford and Michael Eaton) with the wild card.

From February 2022 onwards, the AI algorithms developed by these teams will be running a lettuce cultivation in a real greenhouse compartment. Two cycles of a lettuce crop must then be grown fully autonomously. The first cycle is to test the algorithms and obtain additional training data. After allowing the teams some time to refine their algorithms, if needed, the second cycle will start in May. The result of this second cycle counts.