In 2019, Team Agribon won 3rd place in Shell NXplorers’ The Bright Ideas Challenge. For the program, they presented an agricultural drone, ‘Agribon’, capable of precision farming—able to use fertilizers and chemicals only in the areas of the farm that need it.
With their smarts, ambition, and desire to help their community, Team Agribon persevered even after the program had concluded. They pursued the development of Agribon despite various challenges that stood in their way. With the help of PSFI, Team Agribon’s idea and relentless passion were matched with a local inventor who is helping them soar farther than they initially thought they could.
Meet Sherwin Yap. Inventor, founder of Kaizen Robotics, and Shell Philippines’ Real Estate Facilities Manager. Yap is a 3-time Shell global winner for innovations in the field of supply chains. He is also leading Shell Philippines’ logistics teams to take the global number one ranking in the fuel logistics field.
It was almost a knee-jerk reaction for Yap to help young innovators after reading about the educational program.
“I read about a few NXplorers projects and was so inspired that I decided to volunteer my time and skills to contribute to Shell’s innovation programs” Yap said.
“I approached Baste Quiniones, our Executive Director for PSFI, and asked him to match my expertise with their current needs. With that, he came back to me with the opportunity to help and guide Team Agribon. It was a match that PSFI thought was really good.” He added.
Yap is helping the young innovators develop and improve their “bright idea”. Their goal for working together is to create the actual prototype for Agribon. He had nothing but praise for the team, especially given their knowledge on what he believes is the up-and-coming industry to watch out for.
“Team Agribon is a group of talented students — student scientists and teachers actually. I’m very impressed with their capacity to utilize technology such as machine learning and drone control which will soon be the top industries in the near future — It’s a good start for the Philippines.”
As Team Agribon’s mentor, Yap is very encouraging to the young innovators. Yap would share similar projects he had done in the past to assure the team that what they were working on could really be done. He would also motivate them by helping with the technical aspects of the project as well as troubleshooting—Yap’s favorite part of the process.
Despite limitations and issues that impede their progress, the team is highly motivated in achieving their goal. Additionally, Yap estimated that the project would have cost millions to develop while the team managed to create it with less than P100,000.
As an idea presented for the NXplorers program, its intent is to solve a Nexus problem in the team’s community. Agribon was basically designed to provide a food-sufficiency solution in the food, water, and energy Nexus. Yap noted that Agribon can even be developed further to be used for various drone automation functions like skyscraper firefighting and security.
“Actually, the farming bit is already more complicated than other functions it can use. Given that skillset for Team Agribon, they would be able to do a lot more for the country, or even the world.”
When asked what sets Team Agribon apart from other teams, Yap offered an interesting perspective on the team’s approach:
“Team Agribon is unique because they will be employing the most advanced technologies which are Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and robotics for the oldest industry in the world, which is agriculture. It’s the oldest and the latest industries combined.” He said.
The pairing of the mentor with Team Agribon consistently yields positive results. In fact, Yap stated that they are very close to creating the actual Agribon prototype. With only a few more tweaks and mechanisms to be applied, the prototype is expected to take flight soon.
For their next steps, Yap identified that Team Agribon could create a larger scale of prototypes that can be tested on the field then showcase their invention to the world.
Finally, Yap offered his advice on the importance of the STEM field for the youth.
“Industry 4.0 is coming. With that comes the advancements of artificial intelligence, robotics, and maybe the internet of things that will come into play and that will be the top industries of the future.” He said.
“We need to educate the youth, which is what Team Agribon is already leading and a couple of other bright scientists. Even at an early age of 9, similar to when I started learning robotics, we need to learn that because that is the only way we can future proof our youth.”
Team Agribon is among the many future leaders that NXplorers was able to help and empower. May they serve as an inspiration to the youth to find and conquer the STEM field in their own way.