2021 ACRE dry-run Field Campaign

The ACRE 2021 dry-run Field Campaign took place at INRAE's facility in Montoldre (France) from 20th to 24th September 2021.

Last year the first dry-run took place in October 2020, however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation, only one team participated in it. Thus, a second dry-run was scheduled for June 2021. Nonetheless, exceptionally bad weather conditions made it impossible to hold the competition. Heavy rain, strong winds, and low temperatures caused significant soil degradation and loss of plants. Thus, the dry-run finally took place in September 2021. 

Some days before 20th September 2021, the plots were flooded because of abundant rain. However, sunny weather in the successive days mixed with the characteristics of the soil has allowed performing the dry-run as originally planned. Due to the abundant rain with sunny and hot weather in the days immediately before the competitions, plants were higher than initially planned. Maize plants reached an average height of 25 cm, while bean plants reached an average height of 12 cm. 

Four teams came to the fields to test their robots, but only three of them officially participated in the competition. These teams were: Polimi, SONY Computer Science Laboratory, and the TIARA project team made up of SABI AGRI & INRAE. 

The Polimi team participated in the Plant Discrimination FBM, the SONY team participated in the Plant Discrimination FBM, Weed Destruction FBM, Intra-row weeding TBM, and the TIARA project team (SABI AGRI & INRAE) participated in the Field Navigation FBM. 

Participants had the opportunity to perform field tests in the first part of the week, and on 24th September, the official evaluation took place. Experts from the ACRE organization board measured robots' performance through instruments and validated protocols, as prescribed by the Evaluation Plan. 

As for Plant Discrimination FBM, participants could test their robots on 35 m long maize and bean plots. Four kinds of weeds were present: ryegrass, mustard, matricaria, and lamb's quarter (chenopodium album). We prepared four plots with only one kind of weed and a fifth with an association of three weeds (ryegrass, matricaria, lamb's quarter) with the natural weeds. For all other FBMs, the length of the plots was 46.5 m. Plots were all straight apart for testing Field Navigation, where for each crop, maize and bean, the plots presented a curve in the middle of the plot. The organizers collected images of plants and weeds to build a dataset for the 2022 1st Cascade Campaign. 

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