WASHINGTON—This rock picking robot from Idaho made it to the final four in the American Farm Bureau’s seventh Annual Ag Innovation Challenge.
The virtual competition highlighted the start-up Grangeville company: 'Our four Ag Innovation challenge teams are: Idaho Farm Bureau member TerraClear incorporated: Team lead Trevor Thompson!"
The way Terra Clear sees it is that rock picking is a problem no one ever solved. Till now. The robot, TerraClear is the brain child of Grangeville farmers Brent and Mark Frei.
"Only when you've actually picked by hand you realize how bad it is and you don't want to do it," said Mark Frei.
"We were spending days picking rock, I can remember him saying, 'you know with all the automation in the world we ought to come up with something better than hand-picking," said Ron Frei.
"There's so much automation in agriculture right now, so many things, so many beneficial things are automated. Rock picking is one of those things that had evaded that," said Brent Frei.
"TerraClear is a company thats solving a very specific problem for farmers and thats rock in fields," said Trevor Thompson.
So The idea behind it is works with existing farm equipment. So a skid or a front-end loader tractor, so all you do is just buy the implement.
Flash to the drone part of the of the operation.
"Then as the system is running, on board the picker processors use imagery, captured real-time to understand rock locations, sizes, and rock trajectories. Everything thats happening relative to the picker to leverage artificial intelligence for us," said Isabelle Butterfield.
So the end to end solution form TerraClear is a drone derived map. that creates a detailed map of every rocks in the field, the photos are fed into a neuro-network, that Neuro network tells you every location of the rocks and the size of the rock, then the picker goes and removes them in an efficient way.
"So Solving that problem, thinking about taking a lot of existing technologies and produce innovations around them, the tools that would actually grab a rock and to see farmers and growers reaction and can see what's possible now..." said Brent Frei.
This Idaho company has come a long way in two years. Investors and the Farm Bureau are taking notice.