Qualcomm’s award-winning AI drone engineer
Pham Tan Ton, CEO of MiSmart, won Qualcomm’s QVIC 2022 competition for drones that combine artificial intelligence and farming services.
“Vietnam has many rich natural resources, but agriculture is still based on traditional farming methods. As a result, agricultural product prices are low, farming efficiency is not high, and farmers’ health is seriously affected. This is why we need to develop a model of smart farming where drones find and destroy pests. That’s our goal,” said a Smart representative at the Innovation Challenge. Qualcomm Vietnam 2022 (QVIC) finals will be held in Ho Chi Minh City on September 14. .
In According to Pham Thanh Thon, who was born in 1988, farmers used to catch worms on crops. Then, faster and deeper, they decided to spray more pesticides and insecticides. As a result, a large amount of pesticides remain in Vietnam’s agricultural products, causing harm to consumers’ health and lowering the price of agricultural products.
To help solve this problem, MySmart has introduced a drone model for outdoor photography. The image is then transmitted to the image analysis server. Due to the implementation of AI, the system automatically detects the areas occupied by malware. This drone does its job by spraying the right crops with pesticides. Mr. Ton confirmed that this method saves 90% water, 30% pesticides and 12-15% in production costs.
However, this method still has some limitations in communication and data transfer. “Before participating in QVIC, our technical system was still very messy, we didn’t think about using 4G SIM to transmit signals or building hand control systems for Android,” Toan shared.
He said the team has been stagnant with no new breakthroughs for the first two months after joining QVIC 2022. If they want to change, they have to rebuild the whole system.
The competition lasted 6 months, but after 2/3 of the time, the Toan team had not found a solution to improve the company’s existing AI drone system.
But luckily we’ve been working on a solution for the last few months, we’ve been able to design and finalize two completely new circuits using the Snapdragon 625 and 825 chips to create a new AI system. MiSmart also developed the board. New drone controls with Android, radar system, camera…” said Toan.
The system developed in two months has brought many great features to the MiSmart Drone. In particular, it is very important to be able to determine the position of the aircraft with an error of less than 5 cm. More importantly, the system can transmit real-time data from the aircraft to the organization’s flight center software using 4G LTE. Another is to help users control the drone based on the actions it receives directly from the handheld. Finally, the system will help process point cloud data from isotropic radars and algorithms to find the best path and avoid obstacles.
Mr. Thiu Phung Nam, Qualcomm’s general manager in Indochina, said that the use of AI drones in agriculture is not just a problem for Vietnam. Countries that want to switch to modern agriculture need new and faster solutions. Therefore, the international expansion potential for startups like MiSmart is huge. Qualcomm officials pledged to support technology development to actively participate in the company’s ecosystem as companies enter international markets.
The Qualcomm Vietnam Innovation Challenge has been held annually since 2019 under the coordination of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Contestants are startups in new technology fields developing products related to 5G, IoT, artificial intelligence and smart cities.
QVIC 2022 awarded the second prize to the VPTech RAY Project, which offers high-quality portable DAC/amplifiers from Vietnam. Third prize went to the project to develop a cardboard toy robot using the interactive virtual reality platform Graphics Miner.