Digital Summit 2022: Plattform Lernende Systeme presents agricultural robot

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can support sustainable agriculture: The AI-supported field robot from the University of Hohenheim can distinguish crops from weeds using image recognition and weeds the latter independently in the field - without the use of pesticides. At this year's Digital Summit, Plattform Lernende Systeme presented the agricultural robot to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as well as Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, Transport Minister Volker Wissing and the Commissioner for Digital Economy & Start-ups Anna Christmann.


The exhibit was presented by Plattform Lernende Systeme members Hans Griepentrog, Reinhard Ploss and Bettina Stark-Watzinger.

In 2050, agriculture will have to feed around ten billion people on earth. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of animal and plant species worldwide are threatened with extinction by the use of chemical pesticides. Agricultural scientists at the University of Hohenheim, Georg August University of Göttingen (UGOE) have developed a field robot that uses Artificial Intelligence to contribute to ecological agriculture.

"The presented application (Phoenix) can contribute significantly to sustainability in crop production by significantly reducing the use of pesticides. Likewise, this AI robot can be powered by regenerative electricity, as it is completely electrically driven," explained Hans Griepentrog, Professor of Process Engineering in Plant Production at the University of Hohenheim and member of Plattform Lernende Systeme, during Chancellor Olaf Scholz's tour of the exhibition at the Digital Summit.

The AI-supported field robot in action (© University of Hohenheim)

The AI-supported field robot can be equipped for various tasks on agricultural land. At the Digital Summit, an exhibit will be presented that uses intelligent sensor technology to travel autonomously on fields and distinguish crops from weeds. To do this, the robot records the plants with camera and laser sensors and evaluates the data with artificial intelligence methods onboard and in real time. The machine system removes the weeds mechanically using attached tools and without the use of pesticides. Useful accompanying flora, which promotes the growth of the crop and provides habitat for insects, is largely spared. In terms of data economy, the robot must be integrated into an IT structure to provide data to a cloud system for further processing - for example, on field and crop condition or simply to document field work. It also sometimes needs to pull data from the IT system in real time to optimize data analysis and AI methods.

The AI-supported field robot was developed as part of the NOcsPS project (LaNdwirtschaft 4.0 Ohne chemisch-synthetischen PflanzenSchutz) funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). In addition to weed control for cereals, soybeans and corn, further applications were developed for precision seeding of cereals and autonomous planting of white cabbage (funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, BmEL).

Plattform Lernende Systeme was part of the Digital Summit process via the "Platform 3 Learning Systems | Digital Competences" and was represented at the Digital Summit 2022 with various discussion formats. "Data - Creating Digital Value Together" was the focus topic of this year's event. The summit and its in-year process are the central forum for collaboration between politics, business, science and society in shaping the digital transformation.

More information on the program of Plattform Lernende Systeme at the Digital Summit can be found here (in German).

Further information:

Linda Treugut / Birgit Obermeier
Press and Public Relations

Lernende Systeme – Germany's Platform for Artificial Intelligence
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