Breakthrough innovation specialist Cambridge Consultants is bringing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to the edge of the network, using low-cost, low-power devices to perform complex machine learning tasks. ‘AI at the edge’ will enable AI to solve many of today’s real-world challenges, out in the field. The approach is demonstrated by Fafaza, a precision crop spraying technology that performs plant recognition and individual treatment in real time.
Precision agriculture means harnessing technology to optimize production. It relies on precise granular data at the individual plant level, on the scale of large industrial farms, supporting everything from weed identification to crop health and yield estimation. This understanding can then inform real-time actions, for example the application of herbicide to an individual weed. This is the challenge that Fafaza addresses: deploying AI ‘at the edge’, on the back of a moving tractor and without the need for connectivity.
Improving end-to-end efficiency through the integration of technology.
Fafaza is designed to spot broadleaved weeds amongst grass and to treat individual target leaves with herbicide. The system identifies, classifies and applies treatment in real time, while moving at tractor speed. The Cambridge Consultants team chose this tough ‘green on green’ challenge to demonstrate the potential of state-of-the-art machine vision and AI.
Although AI techniques have been able to achieve plant recognition for a number of years, the challenge has been in moving from powerful specialist platforms with delayed processing of data, to processing and acting in real time: this is ‘AI at the edge’. To be technically practical, a system must be fast enough to distinguish and identify plants using ambient light and to apply treatment while the plant is still in view. To be commercially viable, a system must be rugged and affordable.
Fafaza has been developed to run on off-the-shelf components, including a low-cost camera that can capture images at around 20 frames per second and an AI compute platform that costs less than $100. Major processor vendors continue to invest heavily in devices that can run AI inference algorithms, bringing costs down further. These developments are opening up new areas for real-time AI processing in the field, without the need to rely on a communications infrastructure or the cloud.
AI at the edge, using relatively simple, low-cost and low-power devices to perform complex AI tasks without needing to send data to the cloud, will unleash a new wave of applications, from autonomous vehicles and smart cities through to predictive maintenance on industrial machinery.
Niall Mottram, Head of Industrial and Energy at Cambridge Consultants, commented: “I'm really excited by the innovations that moving AI processing to the edge will bring in precision agriculture. Connectivity is generally poor in rural environments and the ability to run complex machine learning based applications on a tractor implement opens up many new opportunities to collect, process and act on data in real time. Fafaza demonstrates how AI at the edge approaches can become practical, cost effective and deployable today."
Notes to editors
Cambridge Consultants （剑桥顾问公司）开发突破性产品，产生和授权知识产权，并为全球的客户提供商业资讯，解决与技术相关的关键问题。60多年来，公司一直致力于帮助客户转化商业机会，包括推出市场领先的产品，进入新市场，引入新技术扩大现有市场。公司拥有超过900名员工，包括工程师、科学家、数学家和设计师，遍布于英国剑桥、美国波士顿、东京和新加坡办事处，为医疗和生命科学、工业和能源、消费和零售以及通讯和基础设施等多个行业提供解决方案。欲了解更多信息，请访问: www.cambridgeconsultants.com。
Cambridge Consultants是 Capgemini Invent （凯捷集团的创新、咨询和转型品牌）的子公司。Capgemini Invent帮助管理者设想和构建他们组织的未来。公司在全球设有30多个办事处和25个创意工作室，是一支拥有7000多名员工的强大团队，将战略、技术、数据科学和创意设计与深厚的行业专业知识和洞察力相结合，开发新的数字解决方案和未来的商业模式。
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Cambridge Consultants develops breakthrough products, creates and licenses intellectual property, and provides business consultancy in technology-critical issues for clients worldwide. For more than 50 years, the company has been helping its clients turn business opportunities into commercial successes, whether they are launching first-to-market products, entering new markets or expanding existing markets through the introduction of new technologies. With a team of more than 800 staff, including engineers, scientists, mathematicians and designers, in offices in Cambridge (UK), Boston (USA) and Singapore, Cambridge Consultants offers solutions across a diverse range of industries including medical technology, industrial and consumer products, digital health, energy and wireless communications. For more information, visit: www.cambridgeconsultants.com
Cambridge Consultants is part of Altran. Altran ranks as the undisputed global leader in Engineering and R&D services (ER&D). The company offers clients an unmatched value proposition to address their transformation and innovation needs. Altran works alongside its clients, from initial concept through industrialization, to invent the products and services of tomorrow. For over 35 years, the company has provided expertise in Automotive, Aeronautics, Space, Defense & Naval, Rail, Infra & Transport, Energy, Industrial & Consumer, Life Sciences, Communications, Semiconductor & Electronics, Software & Internet, Finance & Public Sector. The Aricent acquisition extends this leadership to semiconductor, digital experience and design innovation. Altran generated revenues of €2.9 billion in 2018, with some 47,000 employees in more than 30 countries.