10 months ago

Smart Industry 1/2018

Smart Industry 1/2018 - The IoT Business Magazine - powered by Avnet Silica


Smart Lifestyle IOT in Agriculture technology can help meet real needs," says Jon Christian Hillestad, the head of enterprise at Telia Norway. “Using NB-IoT for tracking purposes is one of the most important areas of IoT and 5G in the future. It can be used pretty much on everything that is mobile: animals, ships, containers, and other means of transportation.” Telia expects to gain valuable experience from the pilot scheme: "With such a big pilot we will get a pretty good picture of how the technology works and how it can be transferred to other applications," Hillestad says. "NB-IoT opens an immense number of opportunities and, with the use of this technology and our platform, we can now connect multiple devices and develop exciting commercial solutions with partners.” The product, originally called Gjeteren (Shepherd), is being marketed under the Shiip brand and will be available early in 2018 at A similar product called Alptracker has been developed in Switzerland for use in the Alps. In the high mountains there is often no access to mobile phone services – and topographic conditions are challenging. Semtech’s long-range LoRa low-power wireless system of interlinked antennae, each covering a radius up to 15 km, locates Alptracker collar transmitters, attached to every animal, via GPS every 30 minutes – with an accuracy down to15 meters. The receiving LoRa antenna transmits the data to a base station via the autonomous network. An Alptracker collar is powered by two AA batteries, allowing continuous deployment of up to 180 days. A clockwork garden ■ IoT with a green thumb Precision farming was high-tech and very expensive when FarmBot creator Rory Aronson had the idea for his solution in 2011. Since then, his company has been working to bring its precision agriculture technology to environmentally conscious individuals at a reasonable price. From February 2017, FarmBot has been shipping its fully automated home gardening set at a price of $2,595. FarmBot Genesis is a do-it-yourself precision farming kit that almost anyone can use, and the robotic system is constantly being improved by input from an open-source community. Included in the kit is an Arduino Mega 2560 and Raspberry Pi 2 Model B in an unassembled hardware package. Genesis runs on custom-built tracks with a supporting superstructure. The kit also includes open access to the software community's step-by-step assembly instructions and online software platform which is accessed through a web app that looks a bit like the popular Farmville mobile phone game. The physical FarmBot system is aligned with the crops, as plotted out in a virtual version on the web app, to allow FarmBot to reliably dispense water, fertilizer, and other resources that will keep the plants healthy and thriving. With its universal tool mount, the system can easily be adapted to do many gardening tasks and, as no delicate sensor technology is needed, FarmBot is much cheaper than 64 industrial precision farming equipment. According to the website, Genesis was “designed to be a flexible FarmBot foundation for experimentation, prototyping, and hacking.” It may sound adventurous – but the demonstration video, at, is just amazing. It may not be too long before we see offers like this in our local Ikea.

How to monitor grapes ■ Putting the squeeze on chemicals One of the greatest goals of modern agriculture is to reduce the excessive use of chemicals – be it fertilizers, pesticides, or fungicides. Precision agricultural practices can be the most effective way to significantly reduce the negative environmental impact of farming due to over-application, while still producing enough food to satisfy a growing demand. The introduction of advanced sensing capabilities allows monitoring at plant level and spotting problems before they spread. With the help of farming robots, chemicals can be applied with honeybee precision and be used only when needed in the smallest necessary amount. Each field of agriculture has its own difficulties and those of vineyards are being addressed by the Grape project, an acronym of Ground Robot for vineyArd monitoring and ProtEction. It is a collaboration of Spain’s Eurecat (Technology Center of Catelonia), Italy’s Politecnico di Milano university, and Vitirover, a French company that has already developed a fully autonomous, solarpowered grass mower for vineyards. The group aims to create the enabling technologies that will provide agricultural service companies and equipment providers with vineyard robots that can increase the cost-effectiveness of their winery products, when compared to traditional practices. The project addresses the biological control market by developing the tools required to execute autonomous vineyard monitoring and farming tasks using unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), and thereby reducing environmental impacts caused by traditional chemical control. The robots will be able to navigate on rough and sloped terrains with six degrees of freedom, doing 3D mapping and path planning. They will be able to detect plants and perform health monitoring as they perfect their approach maneuvers and develop precision arm control and manipulation. The project is still developing and a user-friendly interface is being built jointly with the winegrowers. Videos showing prototypes finding their way among the vines are available at Mission to MARS ■ Seeding a planet The idea of small robots doing fieldwork in swarms was started by Agco/Fendt in 2014 under the name of MARS (Mobile Agricultural Robot Swarms). Since then it has been incorporated as a research project supported by the European Union, the first fruit of which is an automated system for the precise seeding of corn, which is now close to shipping. A MARS system comprises six to 12 Xaver seeding robots which are taken to the field by a special trailer that also serves as a base station. After the robots automatically leave the trailer to do their work, they communicate their progress back through a GSM link. Bad connections can be cushioned by data buffering and redundant communication. The battery-driven Xaver robots each weigh around 50 kg and, as they can work completely autonomously, they are able to seed without breaks 24/7 – even where conventional machines would have to stop due to bad ground conditions. Compared to a conventional seed drill, energy consumption of this swarm is 70% lower and there is no danger of poisoning the soil by losing fuel or oil. The intelligent management of the robots includes very precise navigation in the field and real-time data collection and documentation in the cloud – down to the precise location and time of seeding for each grain of corn. Should a robot become defective or run out of power, its tasks will automatically be taken over by the rest of the swarm. Future scenarios will allow individual fertilization and protection for each plant. Currently, potential customers can apply to take test runs with the system but it shouldn't be long until it is available on the open market. Fendt's goal is to bring the product out at a price that's no higher than a conventional seeding machine. The company recently claimed that customers from different continents are lining up to try the system after its presentation last fall at the Agritechnica 2017 fair in Hannover. More details can be found at www.fendt. com/de/fendt-mars.html. 65