We have developed a real-time alert service for the presence and location of fruit flies, which allows growers, crop advisors and biosecurity officers to respond rapidly and control the pest. Our RapidAIM technology removes the need for costly and time-consuming manual monitoring.

The challenge

The world's top food biosecurity threat

Fruit flies cause approximately $30 billion of damage to fruit and vegetable production globally each year. A further $18 billion of produce is threatened by the pests. In Australia, most of the damage is caused by the native Queensland fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni) and exotic Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata).

A close-up macro image of a fruit fly.

Impacting commercial producers and home gardeners alike, fruit fly attack occurs when a female fruit fly lays eggs in the flesh of fruit or vegetables. The hatched larvae eat the flesh, causing it to ripen prematurely and rot.

Worldwide, fruit fly monitoring efforts are mandated under trade agreements. In Australia monitoring costs more than $22 million each year, and is mainly done by setting fruit fly traps over vast distances that need to be manually checked every seven to 14 days. Millions of these traps are usually empty, making it a long, laborious process. However, fruit flies caught in a trap may be a sign of an outbreak, and the time taken between checks may delay vital containment responses by authorities.

Our response

A new era in biosecurity

CSIRO researchers combined their knowledge of insect behaviour with proprietary hardware and software to detect fruit fly in traps. The patented technology uses an ultra-low-power sensor to detect the presence of an insect and classify whether the insect is a fruit fly.

Unlike expensive camera-based traps which have high power and data needs, RapidAIM's low-cost sensors identify the unique patterns of fruit fly behaviour as they enter a trap.

The results

Detection on the fly

RapidAIM user interface.

RapidAIM user interface.

A network of wirelessly connected RapidAIM traps automatically detects fruit flies, and sends alerts in real-time to a cloud-based analytics and storage platform, linked to a mobile app.

Growers, crop advisors and biosecurity officers can receive real-time alerts on their smartphones, and early warning forecasts are instantly created for fruit fly hot-spots.

When no fruit flies are detected, there is no need to visit empty traps, allowing more time and resources to be spent managing fruit fly populations and reducing losses of valuable fruit and vegetable crops to fruit fly attacks.

The RapidAIM team was supported by our innovation program ON, and the technology was successfully trialled by some of Australia's biggest fruit producers in Victoria in 2017. In 2018, researchers Dr Nancy Schellhorn, Darren Moore and Laura Jones founded the RapidAIM Pty Ltd startup to take their game-changing solution to Australia and the world, with a $1.25M investment from our Innovation Fund managed by Main Sequence Ventures.

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