The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is looking to purchase another cloud-based fully integrated phenotyping field rover.

In a May 11 post, the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research Unit is requesting quotes for the purchase of a new, fully integrated phenotyping field rover. The research unit intends to use the rover to “quickly and accurately phenotype corn plants in the field in order better understand their growth under different agronomic and environmental variables.”

This is the second phenotyping field rover the USDA has sought to purchase this year. In February, the USDA ARS Plant Genetics Research Unit looked to purchase its own fully integrated field phenotyping rover to help phenotype corn plants in the field to aid in its specific research goals.

The rover for the Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research Unit must be able to drive through cornfields and record videos and images of corn plants from all sides. The USDA said that it was looking for a rover that could be operated by someone walking behind the rover, as well as having the rover be able to drive itself semi-autonomously for a single pass in the field.

The rover must be able to store the data it gathers and upload that data to the cloud via Wi-Fi or ethernet cable. The vendor will also be required to provide unlimited cloud data storage. Additionally, the eventual contractor must supply the software needed to both run the rover and upload the rover’s data to the cloud. The post also said that the selected company must demonstrate that comparable data from the rover can be processed to extract meaningful results.

On top of the rover itself, the contractor will be required to supply a handheld tablet or other tech to control the rover while driving it in the field. The rover must be also delivered fully functional, and that no engineering or assembly should be needed.

To comply with Federal regulations, the vendor must be certified as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Section 889, which details rules surrounding Federal acquisition of telecommunications services and solutions. If a vendor doesn’t currently have an NDAA 889 Certification, USDA is requiring them to apply for certification. USDA also noted that USDA-ARS retains all rights to data generated by the rover, but the selected vendor may use data provided by the rover for internal improvement of its products and services.

Submissions are due by May 18. The USDA ARS currently anticipates wanting delivery by June 15, 2021.

Read More About
More Topics
Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.