Estonian technology company CAFA Tech is part of the EU project XGain consortium and contributes to the digital development of European rural areas by developing a multi-robot system that measures soil moisture, provides a comprehensive farm overview, and offers reliable data communication.
According to Annika Tuulemäe, the X-Gain project manager from CAFA Tech, the multi-robot being developed is a versatile assistant for farmers. “The uniqueness of the CAFA multi-robot lies in the fact that a ground robot and an aerial surveillance drone are connected via cable. The CAFA Worker Robot places various sensors in the soil and plant diseases and pests are identified on the photos taken by the drone’s camera using CAFA’s machine vision, VideoLyzer. This approach is very environmentally friendly, as it helps to save the amount of irrigation water, allows early response to the onset of plant diseases or pest outbreaks, and thereby increase yield,” explained Tuulemäe. “The drone is also equipped with a 5G data router, which ensures good data transmission within a radius of about 700m, so that all different sensors can transmit their data from the field even in areas where mobile communication is usually absent.”
The XGain project has been ongoing for a year now and can be considered a period of development preparation. CAFA conducts its testing at a farm on Scilly Island in England, which has been selected to represent rual areas within the project. In the autumn of 2023, a workshop was held for Scilly Island farmers to introduce them to the multi-robot concept and to understand the needs and expectations of the farmers. Annika Tuulemäe also introduced the idea of the CAFA multi-robot to project partners at a project meeting held in the Netherlands.
Preparatory work also included laboratory tests where the CAFA team tested internet connectivity expansion and object detection with VideoLyzer. The lab tests showed that CAFA’s initial concept works and the design and development phase will continue in 2024. The first visit to Scilly Island is planned for this spring to get initial feedback from farmers on the development of the CAFA multi-robot. The XGain project will end in the autumn of 2025, when the final tests of the CAFA multi-robot will also take place.
Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Executive Agency (REA) (granting authority). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.