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Airborne and AI-driven Tech Grants to Solve Environmental and Farming Challenges

Image Credits: UOW, Press Release

Aus4Innovation is an AU$13.5 million development assistance program that aims to strengthen Vietnam’s innovation system, prepare for and embrace opportunities associated with Industry 4.0, and help shape Vietnam’s innovation agenda in science and technology. Most recently, two projects have received funding from the Australian Government’s Aus4Innovation program.

SMART-EYE: Airborne and AI-driven technology to address farming challenges

Researchers at the University of Wollongong (UOW), the Hanoi University of Science and Technology, and Hong Duc University have received an AU$300,000 grant from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Aus4Innovation program to work on a technology-led solution to improve the production and quality of sugarcane in Vietnam.

To meet the ever-growing demand for sugarcane in the ASEAN region, sugarcane farmers in Vietnam need cost-effective and fit-for-purpose solutions to increase the national production and improve the quality of sugarcane in the country.

Researchers from three universities proposed a drone-based technology to design, test, and deploy a system that will enable an airborne and AI-driven assessment of sugarcane to improve production and support farmers’ livelihood.

The AI-driven system will allow companies and local farmers to continuously monitor the nutrition levels and disease infestation of sugarcane fields, thus helping improve the sugarcane productivity, reduce the production costs and estimate yield.

The research team will ensure that the project delivers tangible benefits to local farmers and contributes to improving the competitiveness of sugar production in the region.

The project, named Smart-Eye, will utilise drones in auto-pilot and supervised flying modes for airborne data acquisition and surveillance. It will allow farmers to monitor crop health; estimate and map soil moisture; identify and map weed at the species level for optimal herbicide spraying; send spraying drones to automate the spraying after the weed mapping, and estimate sugarcane yield production.

Senior Professor Pascal Perez, Director of SMART Infrastructure Facility at UOW, leads the Smart-Eye project and said farmers will have direct access to the data related to their plants, which will be accessible via smartphone, tablet or computer.

The technology will be based on four core factors, deploying the airborne system to ensure the best flying path is identified; establishing the system to collect datasets and algorithms for capturing images; testing the system to ensure its data accuracy and; training local teams to operate the technology.

AI / IoT-powered dashboard for environmental Management at Tram Chim National Park

Researchers at the University of Wollongong (UOW) and the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology in Vietnam have received an AU$250,000 grant from CSIRO’s Auss4Innovation project to address environmental management issues at the Tram Chim National Park in Vietnam.

Tram Chim National Park, located in Dong Thap province of Vietnam, is one of the last remnants of the threatened Plain of Reeds wetland ecosystem. It has significant biodiversity and tourism value, providing habitat for over 230 bird species and 130 fish species, including the iconic Sarus Crane listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

The researchers proposed an AI/ Internet of Things (IoT) based digital solution to design and deploy a hub of IoT devices that will collect data in the form of images of animals, plants and water levels, water turbidity, temperature, CO2 and other parameters in various areas of the Tram Chim National Park ecosystem.

The collected data will help identify and count animals, recognise plants and their conditions, and identify water levels and quality in different parts of the Park. It will be presented on a digital dashboard for analysis.

The proposed digital AI-powered dashboard will be readily accessible to different stakeholders of the Park such as rangers, governance officers and researchers, through PCs, mobile phones or tablets to support the decision making and adaptive management at Tram Chim National Park.

UOW Associate Professor Hoa Khanh Dam, from the School of Computing and Information Technology, leads the project and said current environmental management and research at Tram Chim are hampered by insufficient and irregular survey data, due to a lack of digital resources, extreme weather conditions and complex, large environment covered by the park.

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