agBOT Competition Helping Technology 'Earn Its Wings'

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The challenge involves autonomously loading and seeding 2 acres at Gerrish Farms in Rockville. The challenge involves autonomously loading and seeding 2 acres at Gerrish Farms in Rockville.
ROCKVILLE -

A competition for unmanned agricultural innovations is underway and attracting international attention. Eleven teams are tasked with fully developing a machine that can autonomously load seed, then plant and fertilize a two-acre parcel at Gerrish Farms in Parke County. agBOT Challenge competitors range from IUPUI and Purdue University to the University of Regina in Canada and Grit Robotics of Colorado. The final day of competition will be held May 7.

Rockville-based airBridge LLC Chief Executive Officer Steve Gerrish, who launched the competition last July, says 30 additional teams expressed interest in future competitions. He believes the technology used in this competition is on the cusp of gaining larger industry acceptance and could be implemented "relatively quick" in fields when it is commercialized. Gerrish says it's a matter of when agbots can "earn its wings."

The competition has received attention from big ag industry players such as John Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE), Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON) and sponsor Georgia-based AGCO Corp. Events throughout the year-long endeavor, Gerrish says, have drawn attendees capable of commercializing the technology.

Last month, the team from Purdue won the first hackathon related to the agBOT Challenge. The next hackathon, which will last 36 hours, is set for March 25th and 26th in Park County. It will focus on mapping and connectivity, tracking and placing the seed in soil and fertilizer application.

The teams are IUPUI, Purdue, Virginia Tech University, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, University of Regina, Case Western Reserve University, MESATech, Grit Robotics, Muchowski Farms and Pee Dee Precision Ag.

Organizers say the team judges determine to have the most successful design will receive $50,000. Second place will win $30,000 and third will earn $20,000.

You can connect to more about the project by clicking here.

Rockville-based airBridge LLC Chief Executive Officer Steve Gerrish launched the competition last July and says Indiana is poised to be a leader in unmanned agriculture technology.
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