Sensor & Robotics
EDSP has been responsible for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for multiple Dutch governmental agencies and many of the major Dutch companies and institutions since the beginning of the century. Our Sensor & Robotics program was initiated in 2019 and began with the Air Data Program which is originally an initiative from the University of Stuttgart and the OK Lab Stuttgart. It consisted of building & deploying fine dust sensors measuring PM10 and PM2.5 particles, combined with sensors for temperature and moist values and visualizing the data in an overall picture in the Air Data Map. EDSP ECO has adopted the program, enrolled the concept in several cities in the Netherlands and we incorporated it in our Environmental Data Monitor Platform.
Our second smaller project consisted of building the Mobile Intelligent Wildlife Species Detector based on the concept of Tegwyn by which an ultrasonic microphone is used to capture audio data which is then processed using machine learning to identify the animal species. The key advantages over other existing technology is that the audio data is filtered at source saving both disc space and human intervention.
Our latest project is building the Food Forest Harvester (FFH) which is intended to help safe the world by automating harvesting Food Forests.
We want to accelerate the transition to circular nature-inclusive agriculture by making it profitable and less labour-intensive for farmers so that they can easily switch to a nature-inclusive form of agriculture.
Secure and nutritious food supplies are the foundation of human health and development, and of stable societies. Yet food production also poses signicant threats to the environment through greenhouse gas emissions, pollution from fertilizers and pesticides, and the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services from the conversion of vast amounts of natural ecosystems into croplands and pastures.
Agriculture uses 85% of freshwater and, directly or indirectly, produces nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions. Industrial agriculture accounts for a large proportion of these ecological costs and also depends on high energy use and toxic chemicals. Global agricultural production is on a trajectory to double by 2050 because of both increases in the global population and the dietary changes associated with growing incomes.
Agroforestry and Food Forests are part of is a design philosophy called permaculture that approaches agriculture from the viewpoint of self-sufficiency. It is an agricultural principle that uses the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems and works with nature rather than against it. Permaculture looks at all the functions of plants and animals, not treating any as a single product. It has ethical principles like taking care of the earth and sharing the output of the land. Agroforestry and Food Forest harvesting are currently very labour intensive and therefore not a viable alternative to current industrial agriculture harvesting methods.
FarmBot - Take Back Control
FarmBot is a great example of an open source precision agriculture CNC farming project consisting of a robot farming machine, software and documentation including a farming data repository.The project aims to "Create an open and accessible technology aiding everyone to grow food and to grow food for everyone." FarmBot is an open source project allowing hardware, software and documentation modifications and additions from users. The FarmBot project was started by American Rory Aronson who published a white paper outlining the goals of the project to "Grow a community that produces free and open-source hardware plans, software, data, and documentation enabling everyone to build and operate a farming machine."
With automation, mechanization and robotics, a lot of manual work and time can be saved. In fruit growing, 37% of production costs consist of labor costs. In general, the labor intensity per hectare of fruit cultivation is higher than that of other open crops. In the cultivation of low-stem fruit, for example, approximately 160-200 hours per hectare per year are spent on cultivation maintenance. With larger tree forms, such as plum or cherry, this amounts to 320-380 hours per hectare per year. For most berry crops, the working hours amount to approximately 500 hours per hectare per year. These numbers are all exclusive of labor around the harvest. Sensor technology, image recognition and robotics can play an important role in this. It is estimated that even 40% of the labor can be saved with robotization in top fruit cultivation. Precision techniques are currently being developed by researchers and companies. Precision techniques cover a wide range of options for making agriculture less labour-intensive.
The aim of our Sensor & Robotics program is to deliver a productive Food Farm Harvester within five years and accelerate the transition to circular nature-inclusive agriculture by making it profitable and less labour-intensive for farmers so that they can easily switch to a nature-inclusive form of agriculture and promote development in the areas of transparency, Open Data and Citizen Science. Regional groups consisting of designers, developers, journalists and others meet regularly in Labs. They develop apps that inform, positively shape and support society and make the work of administrations and authorities more transparent. The digital tools, the Maker Movement and Citizen Science are leading to more and more people being given the opportunity to design the future & their prefered way of living themselves.