The internet, data, and artificial intelligence technologies have disrupted many industries, such as retail, transportations, finance, entertainment, etc. In contrast, manufacturing and industrial automation technologies have been left far behind in the digital era. Today’s factories, power plants, and buildings operate much the same as they have for decades—following static hard-coded instructions keeping them frozen in time and even slowly degrading. Thousands of lines of rules and heuristics that define how the machines interact with each other.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution will sweep all forms of manufacturing industries and create a digital workforce to augment human operators. Industrial revolutions of the past have focused on mechanical advancements, whereas the current revolution focuses on algorithms. Powering this revolution are recent technological advancements such as Internet of Things (IoT) which allows for constant data collection, Artificial Intelligence (AI) which employs computers to “think” and “learn” similarly to humans, and robotics.
AIoT combines advanced technologies in both AI and IoT to create a digital workforce, augmenting human workers with analytical capabilities based on constant real-time data input. Therefore, AIoT reduces the amount of time and workers it takes to complete often menial or repetitive tasks. It automates processes using AI that previously only humans could do - types of knowledge work that were left out of previous industrial revolutions.
AIoT in Agriculture
Agriculture 4.0 takes advantage of AIoT in a similar way to the tractor in the previous agricultural revolution. This new era of Smart Farming uses disruptive technologies to make data-driven decisions that enhance operational precision and efficiency beyond what humans can do alone. Technologies such as AI, IoT, robotics, drones, and cloud computing are being introduced into the food system to help grow more and better food with less land, water, chemicals, and human labor. This new technological frontier in agriculture is using machines and algorithms to raise the bar in production and profitability for the farms willing to adopt new technologies.
Case Study: The Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge
In 2018, a Microsoft Research team, led by Koidra’s founder Kenneth Tran, won the inaugural Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge, becoming the only AI team outperforming expert Dutch growers at greenhouse growing. They also demonstrated the massive yield, resource use efficiency, and profitability improvements that were achievable through intelligent greenhouse automation
This was the first proven case that IA could surpass human expert knowledge in growing food indoors using less resources.
The results were even more remarkable as the team didn’t have prior experience in greenhouse horticulture. There winning was a mere result of integrating fundamental sciences such as Applied Physics, and Crop Modeling with modern technologies such as Machine Learning and IoT.
Building upon that success, Koidra was born to advance this direction even further and has emerged as the pioneer in the autonomous greenhouse revolution.
Intelligent Automation in Other Industries
The same principles above are also applicable in other process-based manufacturing industries with high level of automation.