Patricia Reiners

Patricia Reiners

Automatisation of Food — Flying Veggies

A Concept for how to use our rooftops in future cities.

If we believe in our expert’s predictions, more people are living in cities in the future. This is called “Urbanization” — more and more people want to live in cities because of better work and care provision. Therefore, our cities are getting more and more crowded and space is running out.

According to research by Michigan State University, green roofs are great at cooling buildings, reducing flood risk, slashing polluting emissions and providing spaces for nature to thrive.

As the earth’s temperature warms, species decline and humanity migrates to cities, urban planners are trying to find innovative solutions to bring biodiversity back into the most heavily populated of environments. Research from the University of Wisconsin has shown that plants can cool cities through the water that evaporates from their leaves and by shading surfaces that would otherwise absorb heat.

Milans vertical forest is an award-winning skyscraper that was completed in 2014. More than 800 trees were planted on steel balconies with the aim of combating air pollution (cnn)

So green rooftop do not only help us reduce the heat and pollution in our cities.

The desire for healthy nutrition and self-proclaimed food and self-care will increase enormously over the next few years. Especially in connection with the required minerals and vitamins that the user needs to intake in order to stay healthy.

Growing your own healthy organic vegetables is setting a new trend. However, the possibility of growing your own vegetables and fruits in the city is very small.

Rooftops are some of the few unused areas in cities. A small inventory: On rooftops is a lot of sunlight, it is protected from vandalism and theft and it currently is not a covered area, so the qm price should be rather low.

The idea of growing your own vegetables on the rooftop is not new. Allan Lim from south Africa for example started an initiative to grow vegetable for low income families on rooftops and sell for a very cheap price. I think this concept is amazing and we have to adjust it a bit to use it in our future cities.

Alabana in Cap town more infos documentation

Starting to grow your own vegetables in cities

Due to the poor accessibility of the roofs, most of the work would have to be done by drones. These would include watering, fertilizing, pruning and harvesting.

Therefore, users need to be able to decide for themselves what to plant, when and how.

Let’s start from the beginning

The user logs in and rents a certain square meter area on the roof. This area can be distributed in the respective city but is calculated in a way that the drone has to fly as little distance as possible.

This area can then be planted by the user as he wishes. He can use the app to plant vegetables, fruits and herbs. He can add so many new plants until his rented area is full.

In the app, he sees the already planted vegetables and how long it will take to harvest.

In addition, the user sees what can be harvested today and even within the next few days. However, that can be adjusted. For some fruits and vegetables, the harvest period is variable and can be moved backwards by a few days.

Flying Veggies — App Design

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What happens to vegetables that are not selected to harvest? The user receives notifications, two days before the last chance to harvest the vegetables. However, he can adjust at any time, which vegetables can be sold directly or will be given away.

Before the vegetables are no longer edible, it is automatically sold or given away to avoid food waste.

Decide what to plant with the app and all the maintenace is taken over by drones more infos

Vegetables in combination with recipes and healthy cooking

The user will be suggested suitable recipes for today’s harvest. So he can already select the right recipe for the harvest in the long term. Missing ingredients can be reordered over the network or through an online shopping service.

The user can choose from several recommended recipes which contain the perfect nutritional value. This part is particularly interesting because it offers a lot of potential.

Now, after the update, the Apple watch is able to be the control center of your own health, it is only a matter of time until blood values can be analyzed in real time and give the user information about their current health situation.

Recipes for the daily harvest here

Automation vs. personalization vs. artificial intelligence

One of the hardest parts of this app is the concept of automation.

The biggest part of this concept has to be automated, but almost all of the information must stay customizable. What will be harvested every day has to be adapted in a certain way. Also, other information such as, “harvesting raspberries every Sunday morning” must be able to be entered in a certain way.

From an eminent point of view, this creates a cutting-edge conflict between automating and the ability to adapt and customize anything.

Nevertheless, these customization options are exhausting for the user and can lead to wrong decisions and frustrated users.

It gets exciting when an AI can already predict the ideal harvesting behavior and the adaptation via a voice input.

To sum it up, this was an exciting project, which still leaves some questions unanswered but shows a functioning possibility for our rooftops in our future cities.

If you would like to know more about it, please check out the case study here

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