VistaMilk SFI Research Centre is proud to announce that PhD student, Eoin Kenny, is the winner of the Best Application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in a Student Project in the 2021 AI Awards Ireland. This award celebrates the most innovative Artificial Intelligence research done by students in Ireland. Eoin, who is a PhD student in UCD working with VistaMilk, has undertaken research that has led to significant breakthroughs in predictive AI modelling, explainable AI, and precision agriculture. In 2019, he also won an international research award in Germany for early work in this area at a key AI conference.
Eoin’s PhD has focused on the prediction of grass growth in smart agriculture and explainable AI. His early research in this field looked at using machine learning for grass growth predictions, and attracted significant international attention. The collaboration with Teagasc, who have a long-standing mechanistic model for grass growth prediction, led to a new combined model that harnesses the best of both modelling approaches. This combined work resulted in a meta-model that determines when it is best to use the AI model or the more traditional mechanistic model under different environmental conditions.
Another strand of the work looked at how best to explain model predictions to end-users (aka farmers). As Eoin explains, “A very popular and long standing way to explain AI systems is to give people examples. Our research introduces a state of the art method to do this in the latest AI systems. In particular, we can display these types of explanations for AI systems which use images, text, or more traditional tabular data in their decision making process.”
Professor Laurence Shalloo, deputy director of Vistamilk said “through the combination of traditional techniques and models with the new AI based techniques, it is possible to increase accuracy of predictions. This will help farmers to make more informed decisions within their day to day businesses”.