AI beats growers in Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge 2020

The Automatoes team, a joint venture of TU Delft, Van der Hoeven Horticultural Projects, Keygene and Hoogendoorn, has won the 2nd Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge 2020. In this competition, organized by Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and internet company Tencent, 5 teams were challenged to use artificial intelligence to grow cherry tomatoes remotely in a greenhouse. During the challenge, all teams managed to achieve a better net end result in a cherry tomato crop with the help of Artificial Intelligence than a reference team of growers growing in the traditional way.

This was announced on Monday 8th June during a public webinar with about 560 participants from all over the world, organised by Greentech. The entire webinar will be online available from next week on

Over the past 6 months, 5 international teams have grown cherry tomatoes ‘Axiany’ remotely using self-developed AI algorithms. During the challenge, they mainly competed against each other. In a reference greenhouse, the crop was grown by a group of Dutch growers. The growers were allowed to enter their greenhouse compartments, at least until the corona crisis broke out. After that, a lot of communication took place with one of the WUR growers responsible for the greenhouse compartment.

On December 16, 2019, the young tomato plants were planted in the greenhouse. A few days later, the control of the greenhouse and crop was taken over remotely by the teams from their own country. On May 29, the last tomatoes were harvested and all data was analysed.

Each team had its own high-tech greenhouse compartment of 96 m2. Each greenhouse compartment was equipped with the same installations. Teams added several of their own sensors to monitor the tomato crop.

The Automatoes team decided to focus on achieving the highest possible quality of the tomatoes, in order to achieve the best possible price, as well as maximizing photosynthesis. The team won on all three parts of the Challenge: net result, sustainability and Artificial Intelligence strategy.

The winning team of Automatoes includes consultants, data scientists, engineers, researchers and students from TU Delft, Van der Hoeven Horticultural Projects, KeyGene and Hoogendoorn Growth Management.

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