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Itelligence has won an SAP Innovation Award in the “Process Innovator” category with a project involving the use of drones and image recognition for the purposes of environmental protection. These awards honor companies that operate successfully in the digital economy making use of SAP technologies in innovative ways.
Norbert Rotter, CEO of itelligence AG, said, “I’m delighted that SAP is honoring itelligence AG as a ‘Process Innovator’ for an intelligent environmental protection project in this high-caliber worldwide competition. Being recognized as a good example of the smart use of digitization makes me very proud and will serve as a special incentive for us to warrant the trust placed in us in the future as well.”
This is the sixth year that the SAP Innovation Awards have been held. The jury received 233 submissions from 37 countries and 25 sectors of industry. 81 projects were shortlisted as finalists. The winners in the six categories were then chosen from these finalists.
“Drones photograph the landscape and a previously trained and optimized algorithm processes the image data automatically and detects the weeds,” said Mark Albrecht, Global Head of Innovation Technologies at itelligence AG. “This involves products from the SAP innovation portfolio among others.”
The itelligence environmental protection project, which was conducted by itelligence Denmark, itelligence Innovation Technologies, and NTT DATA Japan, uses drones to loom for giant hogweed, a plant with huge, deeply lobed leaves that can reach up to 15 feet in height. The sap from these leaves causes photosensitivity in people’s skin, potentially resulting in serious skin inflammation. As this is a highly invasive species, land and forest owners have a duty to uproot the plants in order to eradicate them.
Even though the weed is quite large, it is laborious and time-consuming to scan swathes of land for it by eye.
“We have automated this process by using drones to photograph the landscape and then examining the vegetation in the photographs,” explains Albrecht. “When the image recognition detects giant hogweed, we mark the place on a map.”
Besides the drones, the project uses Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Big Data technologies.
“The greatest challenge was to supply the algorithm with sufficient images to train the neural network to recognize the plant,” remembers Albrecht.
The project was conducted in collaboration with the Danish drone manufacturer ProDrone and involved four Danish town councils. The users update the existing mapping of the weed with the results of their IT-based image recognition and use the information to carry out control work.