From August to December, five teams from technology companies and universities from different countries participated in the competition for growing cucumbers in autonomous greenhouses. Irrigation, fertilizing, temperature control and other factors were controlled by artificial intelligence. The best result was shown by the Sonoma team from Microsoft Research. In addition, it reached a yield of 50 kilograms of cucumbers per square meter.
The results of the participants were evaluated by three parameters:
- net profit (market value of the harvested crop minus water, energy, and labor) was 50% of the final estimate;
- the use of artificial intelligence (reliability of the algorithm, the effectiveness of its strategy) - 30%;
- system stability (water, carbon dioxide and energy per kilogram of cucumbers) - 20%.
The Microsoft Research team achieved the highest yield and net profit. The second place was taken by the team from Tencent - their algorithm showed the best strategy for the use of resources. Third place went to The Croperators team from Delphy and AgroEnergy.
The jury noted that the control group of agronomists, which grew cucumbers on their own, used less electricity than any of the teams with AI. At the same time, it lost only to the team from Microsoft in terms of net profit.
According to the founders, the purpose of the competition was not to start building autonomous greenhouses around the world. The organizers wanted to know at what stage of development artificial intelligence is and what is its advantage over people in the agrarian sphere.