One plant at a time

Precision farming is set to become even more precise with a new camera drawing on satellite imaging.

Thanks to research with ESA on new cameras, hyperspectral cameras flying on drones are now able to see details as small as 4–5 cm.

Three customers are already using the first version of the ButterflEYE LS camera: in Denmark for biological diversity studies, in Australia for agricultural research, and in Italy for providing commercial data to farmers.

The experiences will be fed back into the final commercial version.

“Our first customers were really keen on getting the high resolution, which is the best you can currently get from a hyperspectral product,” notes René Michels, CEO of Germany’s airborne specialist Cubert, who collaborated with Belgium’s VITO Remote Sensing and imec for the camera development.

The camera exploits the potential of a novel hyperspectral imaging chip from imec by combining it with VITO’s image processing honed by working with ESA on remote sensing satellites.

Weighing just 400g, the powerful camera fits easily on a small unmanned aircraft to deliver detailed measurements for precision agriculture but it has also potential in forestry, biomass monitoring, waste and pollution management.

Harnessing the power of colour

“Hyperspectral imaging captures many very narrow wavelength bands in the visible and near-infrared instead of the more typical three or four broad spectral bands: red, green, blue and, sometimes, infrared.”

“By imaging the world in more colours, you can detect certain phenomena faster and more exactly,” explains Bavo Delauré from VITO Remote Sensing.

“A camera that is more sensitive to subtle differences in colour allows you to identify problems that you can’t see with your naked eye or a normal camera until it’s too late to do anything about it.”

Historically, a prism has been used to separate the colours but this results in complex optics and larger cameras. Following VITO’s work on the Proba-V satellite, ESA’s Luca Maresi set the company a challenge of producing a lightweight hyperspectral camera based on a different technology.

The initial approach uses a variable filter in front of the detector, creating an instrument as compact as a standard colour camera and therefore suitable for use on small satellites and drones. One is used by Dutch Cosine Research in their HyperScout camera for the GomX-4B CubeSat, to be launched this year.

Space spin-off helps on Earth

To make the camera even more versatile and suitable for mass production, imec created an ultra-small sensor with the hyperspectral filter incorporated. Cubert used this filter-in-chip sensor in their new ButterflEYE LS camera.

Source: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Engineering_Technology/TTP2/One_plant_at_a_time

Do you have an innovative project with a focus on technology transfer between Agri-Food and ICT, Health or AeroSpace sectors?

ACTTiVAte offers direct funding and business support services to innovative SME projects. Open call for proposals. Apply now!

Do you have technologies in AeroSpace, Health, AgriFood or ICT sectors?

We are looking for innovative cross-sectoral SME projects.

Do you have technologies in these sectors: AeroSpace, Health, AgriFood, ICT? ACTTiVAte offers direct funding and business support services to SMEs. Call for proposals is currently open and will close on September 5th 2017.

APPLY NOW! 

New calling success in the presentation of ACTTiVAte at the UC3M Scientific Park in Madrid

On Monday 24 July, the Madrid Aerospace Cluster and the UC3M Scientific Park , organized a presentation session of the call for projects launched within the framework of the European Project ACTTiVAte.

The presentation was attended by 34 people representing 23 companies and entities from different sectors.

The ACTTiVAte Project aims to support innovation in SMEs by encouraging technology transfer and cooperation between four sectors with strong synergies, such as Aerospace, ICT, Agri-food, and Health.

The ACTTiVAte Project has 1.5 million euros for the direct financing of innovative SME projects.

It also offers support services to SMEs and a technological collaboration platform for all types of companies and entities.

The deadline for submitting projects is 5 September 2017.

 

Interview with Tomasz Kośmider, PhD, President, Technology Partners

ACTTiVAte project brings financial,organisational, educational and networking support to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Technology Partners is a member of the ACTTiVAte project consortium. What does the involvement in this project mean for your institution?

The overall concept of the ACTTiVAte project is to support innovation in SMEs by enabling the emergence of new crossborder and cross-sector value chains resulting from the translation of advanced technologies among selected sectors with strong synergies. ACTTiVAte project involves a dozen of institutions from six European countries – Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, The Netherlands and Poland. We are looking for SMEs who offer their technologydriven products in aeronautics, health care, agriculture or ICT sector. We offer support with a 50 000 EUR grant to modify their technology in order to transfer the applications to other of the four mentioned sectors. In addition, the successful beneficiaries will be given an opportunity to network with their counterparts across Europe and to present their business   cases to a group of private investors who may provide higher amounts of capital as well as a distribution network to commercialisation on a wider European arena.

For us ACTTiVATE project means an opportunity to combine our 15-year expertise in scientificdriven project management with the business acumen of our key staff and to apply them in an area occupied by accelerators and seed capital providers. The success of ACTTiVAte will give us a very credible reference to expand the scope of our services into technology driven PE/VC.

What are the main objectives of the ACTTiVAte project?

ACTTiVAte project works towards three main objectives:

• to foster cross-sector innovation among SMEs from four different sectors: Aerospace, Agri-food, Health and ICT, allocating around 85% of the project budget to SMEs,

• to generate new value chains and to develop strategies that allow clusters to lead the engagement of SMEs in activities intended to create new services and products,

• to set up strategies to achieve stable growth of cross-sector and cross-border innovation beyond the project.

Who will benefit from the project results?

ACTTiVAte project brings financial, organisational, educational and networking support to small- and medium-sized enterprises. They may be well-established companies as well as start-ups that demonstrate a very interesting business idea and determination to prove its value.

Source: http://en.kpk.gov.pl/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Bulletin_No_2_July.pdf

 

 

Successful participation in the presentation of ACTTiVAte in Madrid

Last Friday, July 7, 2017, Madrid Aerospace Cluster and the Science Park of Madrid organized a session of presentation of the call for proposals launched under the ACTTiVAte Project.

The presentation gathered 45 people representing 38 companies from different sectors.

ACTTiVAte Project aims to support innovation in SMEs by encouraging technology transfer and cooperation between four sectors with strong synergies, such as Aerospace, ICT, Agrofood, and Health. The establishment of four geographical poles will also facilitate the development of new value chains.

ACTTiVAte Project has 1.5M€ for the direct financing of innovative SME projects.

Do you have an innovative project with a focus on technology transfer between Agri-Food, ICT, Health or AeroSpace sectors?

ACTTiVAte offers direct funding and business support services to innovative SME projects. Open call for proposals. Apply now!

An autonomous robot to forecast wine production

A nice example of cross-sectoral innovation. ACTTiVAte looks for similar projects.

A technology capable of predicting production without human intervention would be a dream come true for winegrowers across Europe. If everything goes according to expectations, this technology will be available in less than two years.

In a market where quality is becoming more and more important, the VINBOT project could boost the competitiveness of European wine producers. More accurate forecasts are more accurate decisions, and the autonomous robot created and its network of sensors can calculate the grape production and relevant characteristics of the vegetation cover, generate maps and disseminate the information derived through the cloud computing.

André Barriguinha, Agri-Ciência director and VINBOT post-project dissemination and marketing leader, talks about the results of the initiative and plans for the future.

1.- What specific challenges did VINBOT propose to address?

VINBOT can operate in the vineyard autonomously, without human intervention. It has a sensor system that provides you with the ability to move, locate and acquire data. It is equipped with a camera that captures images of the vegetation cover. Then, it applies algorithms that recognize the grapes and the clusters and calculate the production.

There is no such thing in the market. There is no device that calculates the productivity, and therefore the winegrowers have to resort to manual processes that are very slow and not precise. Thanks to VINBOT, you will have a new tool with which to make these calculations as soon as possible.

2.- How come there was no such technique before VINBOT?

Due to the difficulty of having a completely autonomous robot capable of moving around the vineyard and calculate the production. But that is just what VINBOT brings: an autonomous displacement thanks to the built-in GPS receiver and a 2D rangefinder; An HMI that defines a series of reference points and the characteristics of the data acquisition task; Components for measuring grapes; A cloud-based software that processes data from the robot’s sensors to extract relevant information and generate production maps; And a web application for the end user to consult the maps.

One of the biggest obstacles has been the recognition of the clusters in the vineyard, especially those that are not in sight of the camera because they are hidden behind leaves or other clusters.

In fact we continue in it; We use models based on a three-dimensional reconstruction of the vegetal cover facilitated by the range finder. Our results showed that the VINBOT platform is able to calculate foliage characteristics and production with a respectable precision. However, it is necessary to investigate to a greater extent the underestimation of the actual production, caused mainly by the hiding of the clusters, to improve the precision of the algorithm. We are confident of our ability to increase the pressure with new research into both artificial vision algorithms and models that calculate hidden clusters. We are planning a second project that will do that.

3 .- What arguments would you offer to growers to convince them of the advantages of using VINBOT?

The margin of error of the manual procedure is immense, of about 30%. So a technology that reduced that margin to 10% would be a huge advantage. VINBOT is able to calculate its productivity; Generate maps autonomously and almost in real time; Indicate the need to prune clusters to prevent excessive production that depletes the quality of the wine; And improve planning and organizational decisions.

Finally, you can help plan purchases and sales of grapes, decide on prices and management of wine cellars, schedule investments and develop market strategies.

4. Do you already have an approximate idea of ​​what it will cost the growers to acquire VINOBOT technology?

For most producers, it would not make sense to buy a VINBOT; Its purpose is to calculate the production, so if they bought a copy they would have it parked practically all the year. That is why we intend to offer VINBOT through service providers, but also directly to large producers who manage large areas of cultivation.

On the other hand, VINBOT is more than the robot. It requires a server for the post-processing of the images, so it would be easier and cheaper for producers to turn to a company that provides the service.

As for the price, the final version of VINOBOT would cost about 30,000 euros in its full version, although this price could be reduced as we adjust the technology.

5. By the way, VINBOT connects to the cloud. How important is that role?

Given the huge amount of data that needs to be processed, it is easier and cheaper to use the cloud. Therefore, the algorithm with which the images are treated is housed in a processor located in the cloud. Thus, wine growers do not need more than a username and a password to access their results.

6.- They also expect VINBOT to allow producers to sell their wine at a higher price. How do you intend to achieve it?

It is not a direct consequence. But if I use VINBOT, I can make better management decisions and, indirectly, improve wine quality. Optimization of production management and harvesting logistics, fruit quality and homogeneity, foliage management, bunches pruning and differential harvesting make it possible to plan the production, marketing and distribution of the wine with Greater efficiency.

In theory, all this allows the producer to aspire to a higher market price, although this may not always be realistic, given the great competition in the market. On the other hand, VINBOT can contribute to reduce the general costs of production, and this would increase the margin of benefit.

7.- What conclusions have you drawn from the results of the field tests?

Overall, we are satisfied with the overall performance of this robotic platform. We have had several problems with the traction of the wheels in plowed field and with the fact that the system moves practically like a tank, but already we are thinking of installing a set of wheels able to turn independently to avoid this problem.

The next challenge has to do with software and algorithms. We need a more in-depth field validation that is not limited to the acquisition of data from the images, but allows to perfect the algorithms of artificial vision and the modeling in the treatment of the data. In this way we will know perfectly what we have to achieve to achieve a margin of error of less than 10-15% in the calculation of production.

8.- Assuming that they obtain another subsidy, when do you believe that this technology can be commercialized?

Currently, VINBOT has a TRL (technological readiness level) of 7. We will seek funding from Horizon 2020, and if we succeed and the process of improvement and validation fits our plans, we may be able to market VINBOT in between two And four years.

In addition, we hope that this technology will be used in other areas, and not only in vineyards; For example, in raspberry greenhouses in Portugal, where it is interesting to calculate the production from the analysis of images. We also maintain contacts with entities in the United States and we intend to try VINBOT there. Finally, we want to integrate more sensors, some of environmental type.

Source: http://www.madrimasd.org/notiweb/noticias/un-robot-autonomo-prever-produccion-viticola?origen=notiweb

Do you have an innovative project with a focus on technology transfer between Agri-Food and ICT, Health or AeroSpace sectors?

ACTTiVAte offers direct funding and business support services to innovative SME projects. Open call for proposals. Apply now!

Dutch agrifood sector at a glance

The agrifood sector is a dynamic sector that continuously adapts to the newest requirements of governments, society and the wishes of consumers. The whole sector faces the challenge of discovering new opportunities through innovation.

The sector brings a lot of economic benefits to the Dutch economy, and it is also an absolute decoupling of this economic growth in relation to emissions and use of input. The average size of agricultural companies increases, which makes it possible to exploit economies of scale. The results of the companies show stronger fluctuations over recent years than in the past. Are the steps towards sustainability becoming smaller? Reach the limits of existing farming systems?

Food sector

In the food processing industry there is a strong increase in small businesses. Investments in R & D of the Dutch food industry are one of the highest in Europe, but these investments are still very low compared to other sectors. Here too, there is a need to overcome social challenges, innovation can offer solutions here.

Contribution by AgriFoodTech

The first figures about the contribution of technology are now known. Although there is insight into the economic contribution of agro-technology technology, little or no quantitative information is available that provides insight into the contribution of technology to the holistic approach to sustainability.

Download the full publication here.

Source: https://www.regioinbedrijf.nl/nieuws/publicatie-toont-nederlandse-agrifood-sector-in-een-oogopslag.8293/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=regioinbedrijf#sthash.A2NWnMf1.dpbs

Do you have an innovative project with a focus on technology transfer between Agri-Food and ICT, Health or AeroSpace sectors?

ACTTiVAte offers direct funding and business support services to innovative SME projects. Open call for proposals. Apply now!