With the first season of commercial use of Dot autonomous machine use now coming to an end, Dot Technology Corp., a division of SeedMaster, is continuing its R&D efforts to advance the automation used in its Dot autonomous implement carrier, the A-U1. To do that, it’s opening a subsidiary firm called Dot Intelligence Inc., which will be based out of the Alberta Machinery Intelligence Institute in Edmonton.
In Dot Technology Corp., was chosen as one of a group of agriculture and agri-food technology companies that would benefit from a $49.5 million grant awarded to Alberta Innovates from the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network, a federal government initiative.
Dot Intelligence Inc., said the company, will “focus on the development of leading-edge technologies and enhance adoption of the Dot robotic system for use in autonomous farming,” according to an October announcement. The Alberta-based group will focus on making advancements in computer vision, machine learning optimization and intelligent navigation.
“This is a clear signal that we are committed to providing broad-acre farmers with the safest, most cost effective, and most efficient autonomous robotic system available in the world,” said Robert Saik, CEO of Dot Technology Corp. in that same press release. “It also shows our commitment to driving Canadian agricultural innovation across the globe.”
Senior executives at Dot have told Grainews in the past that the company has had many expressions of interest from overseas in bringing Dot autonomous implement carriers to other countries, and Dot intends to eventually do just that — but all in good time. Saik’s statement seems to confirm this is in the company’s future plans as it moves down the commercialization path.
Dot’s management limited initial commercial sales efforts to areas near the company’s manufacturing plant in Regina. The reason for that was the technology was new and still in a development phase. It wanted to have those first commercial units within service and support range of factory technicians.
Now, as part of the ongoing development process, the company says the objective of establishing the Edmonton subsidiary is to build a team focused on adding artificial intelligence and machine learning to Dot. It will eventually allow farmers using Dot implement carriers to achieve complete “set it and forget it” autonomous operation in the field, the press release says. It will also enable a variety of transport options when moving a Dot machine between fields, such as a “Follow-Me” feature or platooning (moving in groups).
The company plans to add 20 more employees to its existing Edmonton R&D staff by the end of 2021.
“Having an Alberta presence means we can rapidly expand our team by hiring talent to add technology, such as object recognition, that will enable Dot to see and add to the intelligence that will help Dot think in the field,” says Mojtaba Hedayatpour, Artificial Intelligence Systems Manager. “This will make the Dot autonomous platform very efficient for farmers.”