Nestled amidst its untamed forests, wild berries, and vast lakes, Finland is an idyllic wonderland that profoundly influ...
Nestled amidst its untamed forests, wild berries, and vast lakes, Finland is an idyllic wonderland that profoundly influences the quality of life in the country. It’s no wonder that Finland consistently ranks as the number one nation on the World Happiness Report. One of Finland’s most abundant natural resources is its naturally-grown wild berries, which flourish in the pristine Finnish forests. However, despite their abundance, a staggering 90% of the wild berry crop remains unharvested.
This issue is compounded by the scarcity of berry pickers and the challenging, often unsafe, working conditions in the forest. Complicating matters further is the fact that the majority of berry pickers are foreign workers unfamiliar with both the Finnish language and the complex Finnish forest landscape.
To address these challenges and better manage and protect berry pickers, the innovative FEROX project was launched on September 15th, 2022, during a partner meeting in Tampere, Finland. Comprising nine organisations across multiple industries, the FEROX consortium aims to leverage cutting-edge technology to create a safer and more efficient working environment for berry pickers.
The FEROX project embodies a deep understanding of how artificial intelligence (AI) is reshaping manual labour. It harnesses advancements in AI, data analytics, and drone technology to map, monitor, and manage both the berry pickers and their forested surroundings.
The FEROX vision encompasses four primary objectives:
The FEROX project aims to construct a comprehensive solution underpinned by AI, computer vision, and drones to support harvesting activities and enhance worker safety.
The project seeks to develop technical services, including equipment, acquisition systems, software applications, and a user-friendly human-computer interface, to improve the overall working conditions for berry pickers.
FEROX will systematically assess the effects of its innovations on berry pickers, ensuring that it positively impacts their working conditions.
The FEROX team comprises nine partner organisations:
Deep Forestry builds drones to automate and digitise commercial forestry fieldwork and tree-based agriculture. Within the FEROX project, their role is to provide drones equipped with cameras and sensors that will collect much-needed data.
Fondazione Bruno Kessler is an award-winning research institute. FBK specialises in the areas of Information Technology, AI, Sustainable Energy, Sensors and Devices, Cybersecurity, Digital Society, and Digital Industry. Their expertise will inform much of the technical aspects of the project, like machine vision and 3D applications.
Tampere University is a multidisciplinary institution in Finland, focused on research and innovation in technology, health, and society. Within the FEROX project, their areas of focus are the research and dissemination of the solution’s core technologies.
The Polytechnic University of Valencia is Spain’s leading technological university. UPV’s role within FEROX is focused on the technical management of the overall project, as well as developing core technologies.
Gemmo AI helps companies innovate their products with computer vision and deep learning technologies. Gemmo’s role within the FEROX project is to design and develop computer vision and machine learning algorithms. By doing so, Gemmo aims to fulfil three goals; optimising yield, increasing workers’ safety, and increasing the quality of the harvest.
The National Land Survey of Finland is a 200-year-old organisation that safeguards, monitors, and maps Finnish land. As part of the FEROX project, The National Land Survey of Finland will support research and mapping efforts.
INGENIARIUS is an organisation devoted to the development of mobile robotics solutions. Within the FEROX project, INGENIARIUS will spearhead system integration by coordinating the efforts of all the partners. The INGENIARIUS team is also responsible for fleet management and the development of the user interface.
The Arctic Flavours Association is a Finnish non-wood forest products association focused on the production and maintenance of wild berries, mushrooms, herbs, and special forest products. Their goal is to promote the gathering, processing, and use of natural products while also improving their quality. The AFA will lead the dissemination and demonstration of the FEROX project.
Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate institution specialising in the fields of technology and management. Within the FEROX project, CU will conduct human analysis, with the aim of measuring the psychological impact of the project on workers. Cranfield University will also be key to the ethical management of the FEROX project.
By leveraging AI, data analytics, and drones, the FEROX project introduces a transformative approach to berry picking. Autonomous drones, equipped with cameras and sensors, collect critical data and generate 3D models of the forest.
This enables accurate estimation of berry locations, quantities, and types. The collected data forms the basis for AI models that aid workers in locating berries.
Additionally, FEROX provides navigation and locating services, along with physical support, to wild berry pickers, significantly enhancing worker safety. Ultimately, the FEROX project introduces cutting-edge tools to create a safer and more dependable environment for berry pickers, addressing the challenges that have long plagued this vital industry.
The impact of the FEROX project is poised to extend far beyond the forested landscapes of Finland. Anticipated developments across three key sectors highlight the project’s potential:
As the lead AI partner within the FEROX consortium, Gemmo AI is excited to embark on this transformative journey. We eagerly anticipate the project’s progress as we work diligently towards a safer and more sustainable future for wild berry pickers. Stay tuned for updates on this groundbreaking project.
Author: Johanna Walsh