Telepresence technologies and practices for enabling remote semi-autonomous CEA food production

G. A. Giacomelli, R. L. Patterson, P. D. Sadler

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

CEA (Controlled Environment Agriculture) is an advance technology for the production of biological materials, such as, food, flowers, and plant byproducts for commercial application. To establish successful operations, education, training, and experience for the system operators are required. In fact, assuming good system design, it is experience which may be the most important factor in the success of a CEA operation. Decision support from off-site consultants or other support groups can be beneficial to help the operation, but to provide an effective response, they require environmental information and plant status, as well as easy access to sufficient data about the current and recent history of operations of the mechanical systems and the biological components. Telepresence procedures, which can be defined as practices which provide a representative environment for humans who then control devices and hardware within distant, hostile, or unique environments, can improve remote decision support of CEA facilities. The CEAC (Controlled Environment Agriculture Center) at the University of Arizona in Tucson not only includes CEA classes for the on-campus education of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as postgraduate growers and industry professionals, but also technologies for telepresence activities. To leverage educational reach, to complement research goals, and to utilize collective expertise which is not always onsite or available, a number of non-traditional decision-support activities have been established. Telepresence practices can substantially sustain or improve distant production systems through environmental monitoring, controlling, decision-support of operations, crop diagnostics, system diagnostics, and distance education, by using web cameras, climate control computers, and email. These procedures provide the information that grower operators often omit or overlook, and provide experiences and information for improvements of distance-education and support practices. Furthermore, these practices have provided effective support despite the inter-personal challenges of remote operations where operator (on site) and advisors (located elsewhere in the world) may have never met, nor have previously developed a level of mutual confidence and trust.

Keywords

  • Controlled Environment Agriculture
  • Food growth chamber
  • Hydroponics
  • South pole
  • Web camera

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Horticulture

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