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Perfecting Crops With AI-Powered Indoor Farms


A Personal Food Computer, which is managed by artificial intelligence.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory's Open Agriculture Initiative has developed a self-contained indoor farm; artificial intelligence controls the temperature, humidity, and other variables.

Credit: Tony Luong/The Wall Street Journal

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Laboratory's Open Agriculture Initiative (OpenAg) has developed a self-contained indoor farm in which every variable—air temperature, humidity, pH and carbon dioxide levels, water circulation—is controlled and optimized by artificial intelligence (AI).

For Italian confectionery group Ferrero, the maker of Nutella, OpenAg created a “hazelnut computer,” an indoor farm supporting up to 16 hazelnut trees. Once OpenAg’s algorithm determines an optimal recipe for growing hazelnuts, Ferrero will compare it with global climate and soil data as it looks for a new place to farm.

In addition, OpenAg this month is releasing a smaller version of the indoor farm in the form of the Personal Food Computer (PFC), a 12-inch AI-controlled cube capable of growing four plants at a time.

The first 60 PFCs will be piloted in 25 Boston-area public schools, and in January the system will be made available to the public.

The PFC is expected to appeal to thousands of people on the OpenAg forum, and the technology could expand human knowledge of cultivation.

From The Wall Street Journal
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