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Trial and error in Dutch greenhouse: Can autonomous systems work well together?

In 2021, the Dutch research organization, TNO, introduced GAIA to greenhouse horticulture. They set four years aside to develop the system, which aims to connect autonomous systems being used in greenhouse horticulture. A prototype has been running at Hortivation Foundation participants.

"We find this project is quite far ahead of business practice," says Egon Janssen, Senior Business Developer at TNO, noted in the fall of 2022. To close that gap, they want to run a user case at the World Horti Center this year. Two commercial controllers will work together to achieve optimum results. "Think production on the one hand and energy consumption on the other."

A harvester prototype in the greenhouse

No longer one big algorithm but step by step
Egon says companies hesitate to offer their controllers for such a project because they "don't want to give away anything that's under the hood." Still, there's increasing support for GAIA. "At first, players coming into the sector with artificial intelligence-based techniques proclaimed they wanted to build one big algorithm with which to run greenhouses. You don't hear that anymore. They've realized a step-by-step approach, like using algorithms first only to control the greenhouse climate, is better," he concludes.

Automated systems must begin communicating with and considering each other. It is only then that their use will increase in greenhouse horticulture, Egon reckons. Meanwhile, the human role - the operator - remains vital, even with autonomous systems, just like using a single language. In 2023, TNO and Hortivation will expand the Greenhouse Information System's common language to include harvesting robots and crop and sorting machines.

For more information:
Egon Janssen
Tel.: +31 (0) 653 467 664

Stichting Hortivation

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