HiPerGreen: Second half-year symposium
Students, researchers, professors, company representatives and ADI gathered to share progress and ideas at the second half-year symposium of HiPerGreen. This educational programme is a subsidized research project aiming to bring value to horticultural growers.
WORLD HORTI CENTER NAALDWIJK, Friday 26th October
ADI initiated the HiPerGreen project and is actively involved in the development.
The HiPerGreen team was extremely pleased to see returning attendees: several guests were already present at the first symposium back in march 2018. Thanks to their interest in the team’s work and progress, they helped breaking the ice at various occasions during the event. Indeed, they were able to interact with the newcomers by initiating conversations. Among the new faces were students conducting research for HiPerGreen, company representatives and new HiPerGreen team members.
Following a welcoming lunch, Cock Heemskerk, head of the HiPerGreen project and lector in Robotica at Inholland University of Applied Sciences, invited the audience to take a seat in the amphitheater where the symposium presentations were held. After a few welcoming words and overall status updates, he gave the floor to Lucien Fesselet.
Progress and achievements
Lucien, project manager at HiPerGreen and co-founder of ADI, invited several speakers working or willing to work on the HiPerGreen project to come and speak to the audience. Lucien did a presentation as well, where he introduced the creation of the minimal viable product (MVP) HiPerGreen is working on. It will be used for automated detection of fusarium in Phalaenopsis (a type of orchid). The audience was highly engaged and several presentations ended in the form of a panel discussion rather than a simple questions and answers session. Lucien moderated theses discussions.
Lucien’s first guest was Igno Breukers from DB2-Vision B.V.. This young startup created and manufactures a new type of multispectral camera which is very suitable for use on a greenhouse monitoring drone. After shortly introducing DB2-Vision to the public, Igno shared his strong interest in developing a partnership with HiPerGreen and ADI.
The following speaker was Tim Brander, head grower at Hazeu Orchids. This greenhouse collaborates with HiPerGreen and ADI and offers room for research and testing purposes. Tim explained a common struggle of all orchids grower: diseases scouting and diseases’ consequences. Explaining this problem was very valuable as the audience could better grasp the issue HiPerGreen is aiming to solve.
This scouting struggle was further explained by Tom Kearny-Mitchel, head of biology at ADI. In his presentation, he tells of his work in segmentation and how drone-collected images can be analysed to detect illnesses in orchids.
As an important amount of work at HiPerGreen is done by students, Lucien then invited five representatives to summarise their team’s work, findings and failures. The types of projects that are conducted by students are very diverse and range from experimentation on orchids in climate-controlled greenhouses to business case investigations. Such projects allow the gathering of very useful information, which guides HiPerGreen’s and ADI’s progress in the right direction.
The most notable student projects were the rail-based system, the drone stabilisation software and the drone landing dock station. All three projects progressed healthily in the past months, which led to the completion of very promising hardware and software prototypes.
- Mohit Lalwani’s rail-based system will soon be put into use. Thanks to this prototype, the HiPerGreen team will be able to test and improve the cameras and other sensors and systems that will equip the future greenhouse drones.
- Mark Ramaker’s drone stabilisation software based on block matching algorithms he improved himself was a much awaited solution by the HiPerGreen team. Thanks to this programme, HiPerGreen will be apt to fly automated drones in greenhouses.
- Finally, Jeroen’s Westerhout’s drone landing dock station strongly attracted the audience’s attention. This prototype is in fact a drone battery swap platform which will make automated drone’s assignment possible in the future. Drones indeed need a new battery about every 20 minutes and changing batteries manually is time-consuming and can cause small operational problems.
Welcoming new ideas
For this second edition of the symposium, the HiPerGreen team took the initiative to collect ideas and feedback from the audience by organising a brainstorming session after the live drone demo. Guests were asked to brainstorm about three topics (green, tech and business) and answer 4 questions: “Top?”, “Tip?”, “Pay attention to” and “What’s next?”
Overall, the impression (Top?) of the guests was positive as they understand that drones in greenhouses are very much needed. As advice (Tip?), they suggested HiPerGreen do not lose its focus and keep automated drones as a end commercial goal in mind. The red flags (Pay attention to) that were raised were the lack of hard numbers in presentations and the possible risks of miscommunication in a multidisciplinary team such as HiPerGreen. As for the future (What’s next?), topics such as data processing and automation were the most popular ones discussed.