Land-o-Lakes ag drone challenge with $150,000 prize

This seems very doable -- indeed, I think an off-the-shelf product from PrecisionHawk or Agribotix can already do all of this. Am I missing something?

Challenge Overview

Land O’Lakes, Inc. is seeking proposed solutions that enable scalable, autonomous drone usage in precision agriculture (the “Solution(s)”). While drone technology is one of the hottest topics in the agriculture industry today, current solutions have not yet evolved to make drones a valuable or cost effective tool for farmers.

Land O’Lakes, Inc., a farmer-owned cooperative, is investing in the Land O’Lakes Prize (a total potential prize purse of $150,000), to be awarded to an individual or team that evolves drone technology into a valuable, user-friendly tool for farmers.

The new drone hardware and software Solutions we seek will solve critical issues for farmers. They will limit the need for human involvement in the collection of high resolution field data, decrease the time needed to access crop imagery, and improve the ability for a farmer to make decisions based on field health data. The decision-making this technology will enable has the potential to help farmers better tailor care to the specific needs of crops and that leads to potential gains in water efficiency and crop yield while reducing fertilizer waste. 

 

Plans for the winning Solution

Land O’Lakes is seeking scalable Solutions that they can offer to their members and is using a crowdsourcing challenge to find and evaluate new technologies (the “Challenge”). The competitors will retain ownership of any intellectual property contained in the proposed Solutions.

Solutions that are developed to compete for the Land O’Lakes Prize will also have the potential to be independently repurposed for use in security, inspection, livestock surveillance and other applications which require regular, repeated flights and data collection with high autonomy.   

   

Finalists and Prizes

Competitors must submit written proposals along with videos, log files and other supporting information by August 1, 2017.  Judging will determine up to three finalists (the “Finalists”) which will be invited to attend a live demonstration event at an FAA approved test location. Performance at this live demonstration event will support the determination of the Grand Prize winner, if any. If it is determined, in the judges’ sole discretion, through this demonstration that none of the Finalists have met the Criteria listed herein, no Grand Prize will be awarded..

The Challenge offers the Grand Prize winner a cash prize of $140,000 USD. For each of the Finalists not selected as the Grand Prize winner, the Challenge offers a cash prize of $5,000 USD.

 

How do I particiapte?

To be eligible to be selected as a Finalist, the Solution must, at minimum:

  • Be able to record orthorectified crop images with Red (600-720 nm) and IR (760-900 nm) spectral bands in a minimum of georeferenced .geotiff format.
  • Be capable of autonomously determining an appropriate flight path to image a field after receiving a file containing the bounds of the area to be imaged
  • Be capable of autonomously operating (take off, collect data, land, transmitting data etc.) unattended for multiple days, with multiple flights per day.
  • Utilize wireless connectivity (suitable for use in rural areas) to transmit and receive data.
  • Be able to operate in winds of up to 20mph, and use data connection to determine if weather conditions are safe for flight.

The Solution may include a variety of approaches, including, but not limited to:

  • Drone and UAV hardware (multi-copter, fixed wing, fixed wing/vertical take off hybrid, inflatable, etc.)
  • Base stations, ports, or hanger hardware to enable longer term autonomy

 

The judging panel will rank the eligible Solutions submitted against the following criteria:

Criteria

Description

Percent Importance

Imaging Capabilities

  • Record orthorectified crop images
  • Red (600-720 nm) and IR (760-900 nm) spectral bands in minimum of .geotiff format
  • Automatic image stitching with sun/brightness correction
  • Ability to store unique identifier to associate imagery with a grower/farmer

15

 

Autonomous Operation

  • Receive a file defining the bounds of the area/fields to be imaged
  • Autonomously determine a flight path to image a given area
  • Identify and avoid obstacles during flight
  • Ability to operate (take off, collect data, land, recharge, transmit data output etc.) unattended for multiple days, with multiple flights per day
  • Ability to receive/alter instructions mid flight
  • A human operator must be able to override with manual inputs at any time

35

Communications and Data Handling

  • Utilize Verizon LTE network, or other wireless connectivity (suitable for use in rural areas) to transmit and receive large amounts of data
  • Solution must be able to collect and store large amounts of collected data

15

Scalability

  • A single flying vehicle should be able to image multiple different fields (at least 3 - 70 acre fields) in a 1.5 mile radius in a 4 hour window
  • Preference will be given to Solutions able to collect data unattended from the greatest number of fields in the largest total area 

25

Safety

  • Operation in winds of up to 20mph
  • Utilize data connection and/or locally collected data to determine if weather conditions are safe for flight
  • Long intervals between needed service/failure
  • Drone must be able to receive a signal mid-flight to return to a safe location

10

Additional information may be requested before making a final selection of Finalists.

 

Additional Rules

 Participation Eligibility:

The Prize is open to individuals, age 18 or older, private teams, public teams, and collegiate teams. Individual competitors and teams may originate from any country.  Employees of Land O’Lakes, Inc., HeroX, and the Dean’s Office and Computer Science and Engineering Department at the College of Science and Engineering of the University of Minnesota, and their respective immediate family members or persons living in their households (whether or not related), and advertising agencies, affiliates and/or subsidiaries of any of the above, are not eligible to enter or win.

Submissions must be made in English. All Challenge-related communication will be in English.

To be eligible to compete, you must comply with all the terms of the Challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement – Competitor Retains IP, which will be made available and must be signed by the individual or an authorized representative of the team upon registration.

 

Intellectual Property Rights:

As detailed in the Challenge-Specific Agreement – Competitor Retains IP, each competitor will retain all intellectual property rights in its proposed Solution. Each competitor represents that its proposed Solution is of original development by such competitor, is specifically developed for purposes of the Challenge, and shall not infringe or violate any patent, copyright, trade secret, or other proprietary right of any third party.

 

Right of First Negotiation:

In exchange for the cash prize, each Finalist acknowledges and agrees that for a period of twelve (12) calendar months after the date on which the Grand Prize winner is announced (the “Period”), Land O’Lakes, Inc. shall have a right of first negotiation to become the exclusive licensee of the Solution for purposes of the agricultural industry worldwide. As soon as practicable, and in any event within five days after a Finalists’ receipt of any oral or written offer from a third party during the Period with respect to an exclusive license to the Solution for purposes of the agricultural industry, such Finalist shall notify Land O’Lakes, Inc. in writing of such offer, and if the offer is in writing, provide a copy thereof. Land O’Lakes, Inc. and such Finalist shall have ninety (90) days from the date of such notice to negotiate in good faith, an exclusive license at terms no less favorable than those contained in the offer.  If an exclusive license is agreed upon during such ninety (90) day period, the Finalist and Land O’Lakes, Inc. shall than execute a substantive agreement with respect to such exclusive license.  If Land O’Lakes, Inc. elects, in its sole discretion, not to pursue the exclusive license, the applicable Finalist shall be free to agree to the offer from such third party so long as such agreement does not affect any otherwise existing obligations between such Finalist and Land O’Lakes, Inc.

 

Registration and Submissions:

Submissions must be made online (only), via upload to the HeroX.com website, on or before 4:59pm EST on August 1, 2017. All uploads must be in PDF format. No late submissions will be accepted.

 

Selection of Winners:

Based on the winning criteria, prizes will be awarded per the weighted Judging Criteria section above.

Should multiple submissions equally meet the requirements as stated in the judging criteria, preference will be given to submissions that can overperform (i.e. higher image resolution, ability to image a larger area, etc.)

 

Judging Panel:

The determination of the winners will be made by the sole discretion of Land O’Lakes based on evaluation by a panel of judges selected by Land O'Lakes.

 

Additional Information

  • Any indication of "copying" amongst competitors is grounds for disqualification.
  • All proposed Solutions will go through a process of due diligence; any proposed Solution found to be misrepresentative, plagiarized, or sharing an idea that is not their own will be automatically disqualified.
  • All ineligible applicants will be automatically removed from the Challenge with no recourse or reimbursement.
  • No purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter or win the Challenge.
  • Void wherever restricted or prohibited by law.

 

Views: 1180

Comment by Jimmy Oliver on February 17, 2017 at 3:24pm

I think that multiple charging stations are missing right? Wireless charging stations?


Developer
Comment by John Arne Birkeland on February 18, 2017 at 7:03am

The competitors will retain ownership of any intellectual property contained in the proposed Solutions.

Originally I though this was just yet another scheme to get research and project development on the 'cheap'. But this single line changed this into something doable for both parts.

But it will be interesting to see how they will handle project based on open source together with these requirements.

  • Any indication of "copying" amongst competitors is grounds for disqualification.
  • All proposed Solutions will go through a process of due diligence; any proposed Solution found to be misrepresentative, plagiarized, or sharing an idea that is not their own will be automatically disqualified.
Comment by Marc Dornan on February 18, 2017 at 7:31am

I think they just need to stipulate that all solutions used must comply with any open source licensing requirements and use of open source must be clearly stated.

Comment by JB on February 18, 2017 at 8:55pm

Interesting that it is not an idea harvesting competition, although they are calling dibs on the first right to purchase the IP from the competitor. (which isn't really a negative - unlike the Local Motors one) 

If I'm reading it right the hard part will be:

  • Ability to operate (take off, collect data, land, recharge, transmit data output etc.) unattended for multiple days, with multiple flights per day
  • A single flying vehicle should be able to image multiple different fields (at least 3 - 70 acre fields) in a 1.5 mile radius in a 4 hour window
  • Preference will be given to Solutions able to collect data unattended from the greatest number of fields in the largest total area 

Unattended for multiple days means a way to accurately land the UAV's and charge them without human intervention. 70 acre fields can easily be achieved with a multirotor, but the winner will be the one that does the maximum area unattended. This looks like a contender for quadplanes. Who's interested in formulating a team?

Comment by Curt Olson on February 19, 2017 at 5:22am

Even though I work a the U of MN and live in the land 'o lakes, this is the first I've seen this challenge.  By my read, the data management aspects they are looking for could be challenging.  That is a 'boring' aspect of the project, but over the long haul is probably one of the most important and time consuming.  There is also quite a bit of challenge hidden beneath "sun/brightness" correction.  Multi-day autonomy and recharging is scary ... are there any off the shelf solutions for that?  They may also be hoping for something better on the image stitching side .... something beyond manually pushing a collection of images through a commercial software tool and waiting a few hours and then manually pushing the answer back into your data management system.

Comment by Jimmy Oliver on February 19, 2017 at 10:16am

There are 2 off the shelf charging stations that would probably eat up the $5000 finalist prize. I'm assuming that you can't use Agribotix or Event 38, DroneDepoy, etc? I am not in possession of a spectral camera (I make my own Near IR rigs from Canons) I am in possession of a FireFly 6 and Phantom 3 with NIR+RED lens.

Failure/Service means multiple charging stations with automated housing that opened before mission to protect from elements.

Sun Correction? I would fly between 10am and 2pm. Is there way to quash a mission if a certain amount of sunlight was not met? (e.g. clouds)

Wireless Charging is not that difficult of a problem to build your own. I think that precision of landing would be. This would have to be considered. (IR Lock)

Data Transmission: If you are not processing 3D images and there is no real time limit, I assume you could get a turnaround under 6 hours on a dedicated system.

I would love to tackle this but lack the coding knowledge to build the data transfer and lack the funding for charging stations. I do have one IR-Lock system.

Comment by Hamish on March 23, 2017 at 2:04am

Could you have a multirotor tethered to a big rover? Fields always seem to have tractor tracks through them, you could drive down those. Rover could have a generator on board to keep flight times high, or just a big bank of cheap batteries. The rover could even have imaging processing on board, images could be transferred down the tether instead of wireless.

Actually, there has already been plenty of work in farm rovers, I bet you can find one perfectly suited to hosting a tethered multirotor. 

Shotgun the IP! 

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