Our community goes beyond our project - from Digital Innovation Hubs to other H2020 projects, discover the Magnitude of SmartAgriHubs.
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agROBOfood is an EU-funded project aiming to build a European ecosystem for the effective adoption of robotic technologies in the agri-food sector, which in turn will become more efficient and competitive. The heart of the project is formed by Innovation Experiments, organized and monitored by Digital Innovation Hubs. In 7 Regional Clusters, Initial Innovation Experiments will demonstrate robotics innovations in agri-food, in a manner that ensures replicability and wide adoption across Europe. Digital Innovation Hubs will support companies in digitization by connecting various stakeholders. agROBOfood already connects the world of Robotics and Agriculture, R&D and business by establishing a sustainable network of Digital Innovation Hubs. The network already counts 49 Digital Innovation Hubs and 12 Competence Centres, and it will be extended and strengthened during the project. In addition, agROBOfood will launch "Open Calls" through which it will attract and fund additional Innovation Experiments and Industrial Challenges. A total of €8 million will be allocated for the direct benefit of SMEs through "Open Calls".
The Innovation Experiments (IEs) are the key instrument of agROBOfood. On the one hand, IEs are used to mature technologies to agROBOfood meet end-user needs and demonstrate robotics solutions to increase technology uptake. And on the other hand, the IEs are used to test and improve the quality of the network and services. A trial run of IEs - Initial Innovation Experiments (I) – run from the project start, kick-starting the network and testing the services offered, before IEs from the Open Calls commence.
Initial Innovation Experiments address a need brought by an industry that requires support from the DIHs and includes cross-border elements. The starting experiments will enable the agROBOfood DIH network to develop and test its' cross-border services under real conditions in preparation for the Open Calls.
All agROBOfood Open Calls aim to stimulate, inspire and finally support Innovation Experiments and Industrial Challenges that meet user needs and have clear market potential with important benefits for the EU economy and society.
Innovation Experiments aim to directly support the digital transformation of agri-food companies that have not taken full advantage of robotics technologies yet, they will not involve any research and development activities, but will rather focus on innovations that demonstrate the technology's usefulness for and from the end user's perspective by showcasing and demonstrating activities (e.g. use-cases), while will also utilize technology, ecosystem and business services and custom training.
(H3O-SpotOn IE Mentor)
H3O-SpotOn demonstrates how robotics paired with satellite navigation and artificial intelligence (IA) can reduce the number of pesticides used in orchards, and vineyards by up to 50% in line with the EU’s Green Deal, the Farm to Fork strategy, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
DIH: National Research Council Italy
(HyFlexyBot IE Mentor)
The HyFlexyBot project aims to design, implement and demonstrate the effectiveness of a pioneering concept of fully integrated Autonomous Mobile Manipulation Robot (AMMR), combining an autonomous robotic arm with an autonomous mobile robot (AMR), for a full non-contaminating production and palletisation food process.
H3O-SpotOn demonstrates how robotics paired with satellite navigation and artificial intelligence (IA) can reduce the number of pesticides used in orchards, and vineyards by up to 50% in line with the EU’s Green Deal, the Farm to Fork strategy, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Knowing that pesticide costs per standard sprayer per year are easily more than €35000, this corresponds to annual savings of €17500 in pesticides alone. Further, nearly 380 M kg of pesticides was used in the EU in 2019. Accounting only for the 6.6% of permanent crops, and counting that H3O-SpotOn sparks competitors’ follow-up effects, around 12.5 M kg of pesticides would be saved per year if spot spraying becomes the norm. In short: Healthy Crop, Healthy Environment, Healthy Farmers’ Finances through Optimized SpotOn Spraying Robotics (H3O-SpotOn) swiftly and sustainably pays back to farmers, consumers, and the environment.
The consortium is led by Fede Pulverizadores, Spanish sprayer manufacturer and participated by three end-users from Poland, Slovenia and Tunisia.
Bio of the mentor: Jesús Pablo González Villodres
Jesús Pablo González Villodres is a Technology Transfer Manager in Robotics and Automation at Eurecat. Eurecat is currently the leading Technology Centre in Catalonia and the second-largest private research organization in Southern Europe. With a turnover of 50M€ and a customer portfolio of over 1.600 business clients, Eurecat can count on a large experience speeding up the digitalization of business and regions, integrating technology into their business strategy. An active player in the national and international innovation ecosystems, Eurecat has been involved since 2015 in European and local projects aiming at establishing networks of hubs and connections across and within regions and is currently involved in 22 technology platforms, 12 Digital Innovation Hubs and 37 European associations.
Jesús Pablo is an active member of the robotics community at the European and Regional levels, being an active member of different technological platforms such as euRobotics AISBL, where he was the proposer and coordinator of the Autonomous Navigation Working Group. He is currently leading Eurecat‘s contribution to networks of Robotics Digital Innovation Hubs in Agriculture, Manufacturing and Healthcare. He has 15 years of experience in the coordination of technological innovation and European research projects in the fields of robotics and AI for aerospace, manufacturing, logistics, agriculture, construction and others.
Main activities, main results and role of the mentor
The agricultural machinery manufacturer FEDE has developed technology and infrastructure that allow remote management of sprayers, as well as precise spot spraying, which allows reducing pesticide use by over 50%. Thus, the H3O-SpotOn IE will contribute to solve some problems such as easier management of the fields while not jeopardizing health and safety of the workforce, reduce pesticide drift and contamination of surface waters and the environment. During the experiment, a crop perception system is implemented, and AI algorithms are developed to monitor the crop and adapt the spraying to its characteristics.
A Sparying control system based on a nozzle control circuity controls the spray liquid flows in real time and with the necessary pressure in a limited on-board electric power vehicle. Really innovative!
H3O-SpotOn sprayers are connected to a tablet App that is mounted in the tractor’s cab. Bidirectional data communication with the cloud takes place via a cellular modem that mounted on the tractor. Farmers can connect and use this information through a friendly graphical user interface. The platform architecture is aligned with the ITU-T Y.2060 /06/2012) reference model to avoid vendor lock-in and to give end-users an interoperable mechanism. Another interoperability point exists since the overall implementation is ROS-friendly, which makes it easy to perform message passing with sensors or components to complement our value preposition.
Different spraying units are manufactured and tested across Europe in three different locations and benchmarked against currently used equipment. The results have demonstrated to have higher impact in heterogeneous crops where the perception system is providing the highest information to the variable spraying equipment.
The support of the agROBOfood mentorship already contributed during the proposal, and it was to find suitable partners from targeted countries in order to build a solid distribution network for commercialization. Additionally, during the execution of the experiment, the mentor provided relevant information about autonomous navigation technologies desired from the coordinator to complement the results of the experiment in future developments.
A piece of advice from the mentor
"Agricultural technology providers should make use of agROBOfood distributed knowledge and facilities to evaluate and benchmark the best possible available technology for their developments. Long term experimental farms should be established to accelerate innovation and evaluate the impact of project results. agROBOfood network, local institutions and regional governments should work together to extend its impact to their local ecosystems and promote the use of robotic and automation technologies among farmers and agricultural companies."
National Research Council Italy (HyFlexyBot IE Mentor)
IE Name: HyFlexyBot
The HyFlexyBot robotic solution can play a vital role in ensuring quality and safety of food products, covering the end-user's needs related to logistics, especially in terms of picking, packing and palletising products. The HyFlexyBot project aims to design, implement and demonstrate the effectiveness of a pioneering concept of fully integrated Autonomous Mobile Manipulation Robot (AMMR), combining an autonomous robotic arm with an autonomous mobile robot (AMR), for a full non-contaminating production and palletisation food process.
The HyFlexyBot AMMR represents a suitable solution to handle food in a clean environment and increase the safety of the final consumer, preserving hygiene and avoiding contamination by workers.
Sector: Food Processing
Type of Provided Service: Technology Support to R&D&I, Matchmaking, Dissemination
Short bio of the mentor: Vito Trianni
Vito Trianni is a senior researcher at the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies of the Italian National Research Council (ISTC-CNR). His research focuses on swarm intelligence, with particular emphasis on the design and analysis of complex self-organising systems and robot swarms. Precision agriculture represents an ideal application domain for multi-robot systems and swarm robotics, demanding for novel approaches that can leverage innovation in AI, control and robot coordination. The strong research experience in robotics and AI informs the activities of the DIH of the National Research Council (CNR), which offers services in technology design and evaluation, as well as in services to support networking with the Italian agricultural and industrial ecosystem.
Main activities, main results and role of the mentor
Automationware is an Italian manufacturer specialised in advanced mechatronics and electric actuators for industrial solutions in many market sectors. With HyFleyBot, they want to hit the robotics market, proposing an innovative solution that combines a mobile holonomic ground platform with a powerful arm that can reach out to 180 cm and lift as much as 20 kg. The versatility and precision of the HyFlexybot solution makes it an ideal platform for several operations in the food market (picking, packing, palletising) and beyond. As a matter of fact, the HyFlexyBot solution is attracting interest of several food producers and vertical farms technology providers in Italy and Europe.
During the development phase, the main components of the AMMR have been assembled and tested. The electro-mechanical joints produced by Automationware can be assembled in different configurations, allowing to customise the robot arms in weight and power, according to the application need. The mobile base features 4-wheel drive propulsion with the possibility of adjusting the wheel at 360 degrees (8 effective axes), making it ideal for moving in restricted areas in support of the arm operations. From the software point of view, the system is driven by a ROS platform composed by a PC embedded in the base. The board is connected via WIFI to the master control system based in ROS and defined by a new middleware platform that incorporates the navigation for the AGV and the robotic arm control.
HyFlexyBot has benefited from continuous mentoring from the DIH of the CNR, providing support during the design and development phase to identify possible ways of improvement. Thanks to such mentoring, various technical and business support services were provided. For instance, a technical service was provided to address a real-time control issue, which was spotted and solved. Matchmaking service was provided to identify expertise within the agROBOfood network (from Fraunhofer IPA). This has allowed HyFlexyBot to enter the testing phase without any technical issue, demonstrating yet another time how important it is for SMEs to be linked to a large network of DIH harnessing its rich and diverse expertise.
A piece of advice from the mentor
"Always challenge the assumptions at the basis of the proposed innovation. Solutions that are more efficient, faster or cheaper can be easily attained if some assumptions are changed, relaxed or removed. Be an attentive listener, but speak out loud and clear when it’s time to raise your points, without being afraid of putting into questions the choices previously made by the innovator SME."