Land O’Lakes, Inc. has announced finalists for the Land O’Lakes Prize: Drone Challenge, a crowdsourced competition launched in February 2017 to help surface valuable, user-friendly drone solutions that will help farmers make better decisions for their crops as they work to produce more food to feed more people.
Drone firms often tout ease of use. Land O’ Lakes knows that is not exactly the case. As they satet in their release, “Because today’s drone solutions require a great deal of time and effort in the data collection and processing workflows, the drone challenge innovators’ proposed solutions must limit the need for human involvement in field data collection, decrease the time needed to access crop imagery and improve the ability for a farmer to make decisions based on field health data.”
The competition received more than 157 entrants from 47 countries. The HeroX platform, which democratizes the innovation model of XPRIZE that can lead to breakthrough innovation, was employed and designed to accelerate the development of drones for the ag industry.
“We’ve been a leader in deploying ag technology through our WinField United business. In the precision and decision agriculture and satellite imaging space, we have a number of tools available that provide value to farmers, like the R7 Tool by WinField and R7 Field Forecasting application,” said Mike Macrie, Land O’Lakes chief information officer. “We believe drones—with a few more years work and the right financial incentives, can be another useful tool in our farmers’ toolbox.”
Based on these criteria, judges from the University of Minnesota and WinField United ag tech experts selected three finalists to compete in a closed live judging event, demonstrating their proposed solutions in a field setting at Westland Dairy, Land O’Lakes member-owner, in Watkins, Minnesota on Sept. 20-22:
- Sandhills Robotics, Fayetteville, North Carolina
- CreateUAS, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
- American Robotics, Boston, Massachusetts
A prize of $5,000 is guaranteed for finalists. If a finalist meets all requirements better than any other, they take home $140K. The winners, if any, will be announced in the days following the judging event and will retain intellectual property rights to the solutions they develop to help farmers use drone technology more effectively.