AgTech 'Pre-Commercial Battleground' Set For Year Three

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(Image of Purdue University team courtesy of agBOT Challenge.) (Image of Purdue University team courtesy of agBOT Challenge.)
ROCKVILLE -

The third annual agBOT Challenge is a week away in rural Parke County and its founder says the event will again allow college teams to "push the limits" with their agricultural technology concepts. Steve Gerrish, who is chief executive officer of Rockville-based airBridge and owner of the more than 600-acre Gerrish Farms where the competition is held, says the agBOT Challenge has already provided a boost for advanced technologies like autonomous machinery, plant identification and harvesting and weed eradication. The 2018 version will involve an autonomous weed and feed challenge and a harvest challenge where participating tech must pick a ripe watermelon.

The event has grown since 2016, and Gerrish says it offers a different atmosphere for innovators than more commercially-driven showcases like the high-profile Farm Progress Show in Iowa. "Purdue (University) and Ohio State (University) and these universities aren't going to go somewhere and go out there and crash or fail. They need a place to do that, and I think this is being considered a place to try your ideas out," he said. "This is kind of a pre-commercial battleground, if you will, for ideas coming from universities and industry."

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Gerrish said the competitors are creating technology that is being used in a quickly-changing field. "I am constantly surprised and pleased with the level of innovation these teams are coming to the table with," he said. Key industry players involved in or observing the event, Gerrish says, have provided job, networking and innovation opportunities and play an active role in the agBOT Challenge.

This year's teams include CalPoly, Indiana State University, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Purdue, Colorado Mesa University and IUPUI. Entrepreneurs from Canada, Indiana, Alabama and South Carolina will also be involved. The third annual agBOT Challenge will be May 17-19 in Parke County. You can connect to more information by clicking here.

agBOT Challenge founder Steve Gerrish said the competitors are creating technology that is being used in a quickly-changing field.
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