Agricultural environments benefit from significantly distributed Multi-Agent Systems utilising artificial intelligence combined with advanced environmental interaction.
Any addition of automation and reduction in dependence on manual labour can improve access to fresh produce and profitability.
Please refer to the project descriptions below.
Self-docking, autonomous quad copter for agricultural monitoring: Many agricultural settings require observation and management over vast areas. The speed and agility of small-scale, multi-rotor aircraft may offer efficient and effective monitoring of crops and livestock in these environments. Automating such an aircraft could dramatically reduce manual processes and provide early identification of problems. To this end, in this project a fully automated quad-copter will be designed and developed with recharge docking capabilities. The designed aircraft will be engineered for agricultural environments including safe operation in windy or wet weather.
Self-docking autonomous ATV for agricultural monitoring and transport services: Many agricultural settings require observation and management over rugged terrain. Small-scale All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV) may offer efficient and effective support to human operations in these environments. Automating such a vehicle could dramatically reduce manual processes and provide support to both manual labour and automated processes and systems. To this end, in this project a fully automated ATV will be designed and developed with recharge docking capabilities and the capacity to carry a load. One envisaged load is a mobile docking station for a fully autonomous quad-copter. The designed vehicle will be engineered for agricultural environments including safe operation over complex and varied terrain.
Automated, ground-based irrigation system with soil moisture feedback and scheduling based on weather prediction: There is an argument for only watering when a plant needs it most, which is typically when the sun has dried up the soil. Contrary to traditional watering methods where large volumes of water are provided to plants in the evening or early morning, this approach aims to minimise water by giving plants the bare minimum they need to thrive. By watering underground to minimise evaporation and using sensor feedback to schedule and measure water delivery, only water that is not already naturally provided to the plant can be delivered. This project aims to design a subterranean sensor, control and water delivery system that minimises water consumption in a vegetable garden, on either a domestic or commercial scale. Deliverables include:
Design and development of additions and improvements to the opensource FarmBot system: FarmBot is an opensource hardware system that provides CNC garden automation on a 3-axis basis. It is backed by a strong and growing community who continue to develop and improve the system. However, since it is still in its infancy there is much room for extension and improvement. More information can be found at https://farm.bot. Projects involving the Farmbot include:
Smart Homes incorporate sensors, communication and computational technology for monitoring, automation and control. Goals of the smart home may include residential comfort and safety, healthcare, security and energy conservation. Project topics include:
Cloud computing can be applied to any of the other topics discussed here since it involved the advanced processing of data regardless of where that data originates. Projects may be chosen from any cloud computing topic involving the gathering, transmission, processing or distribution of IoT data. For example:
Through internet connected personal mobile devices such as mobile phones and smart watches we already share significant volumes of data with services such as traffic monitoring and route optimisation, exercise tracking, or health monitoring. Such services process sensor data including location information, heart rate and activity. Collection of additional types of information, new data processing techniques or new applications and uses of collected data are all appropriate for project topics. For example:
Intelligent power networks provide opportunities for improved power supply through solutions that draw from increased communication and information processing capabilities present in the smart grid. Additionally, the increased monitoring and control within components of the smart grid may be employed to improve observability, controllability and optimality of distributed components such as distributed generators (DG), storage, plugin electric vehicles (PEV), sensors and smart home devices.