Earth Automations is an Italian company that believes technological innovation can bring a new way of operating in the world of agriculture. A team of three young entrepreneurs got together in 2014, and the passion and interest they had for agriculture drove them to combine their engineering talents to develop a robot that could work the fields in an automated way. The team was also one of the highlights of the second year of Point IoT, confidently making it into the finals.
Envisioning a new agricultural future
During their development, the team was led by a few guiding principles that crystallised into the current solution they have today. First of all, their robot was supposed to be as autonomous as possible. Reducing the burden of physically operating machinery when working the land is one of the major advantages of this solution. Also, the robot itself is a great asset to collect information on the field itself, offering a chance for agricultural companies to understand and analyse any relevant data. The robot is also not a standalone product, there is a need to offer powerful integration in an ecosystem of tools and services surrounding the robot. For instance, the ability to manually take over remote operations of the robot when desired. Lastly, the overall solution needs to be made as simple as possible for the end-user. A complex autonomous robot that is easily maintained and operated. These principles helped guide the team to develop their autonomous robot.
Enter: The Dood
The Dood is the innovative autonomous crawler tractor robot that took shape after years of development from the Earth Automations team. It is capable of cultivating the land autonomously or with a wireless ruggedised tablet touch screen. It is equipped with a three-point hitch and PTO (Power Take-Off) generator. The potential failure points and maintenance of PTO generators are very minimal and used in many tractors. On top of that, it is also powered by a hydraulic system with a stage V diesel engine. This means the DOOD is extremely reliable and is designed to have minimal chances of breaking down. The shape of the “Dood” is designed specifically for orchards and vineyards: low height (1.5 meters) and able to pass under the canopy of trees, even with its weight of around 3 tons.
On the Farm: Guided by Galileo
The robot itself is connected to a GSM/GPRS module and uses its data connection to automatically update its software. It can also detect faulty components through its onboard AI. Furthermore, it incorporates a standard sensor control system with Galileo data being fed into a “Cloud Drive Path Memory”. Through the use of Galileo positioning the robot can navigate the orchards and vineyards autonomously. The Dood can process the data it gathers and move along a series of pre-calculated path points. Galileo thus offers a way for the robot to verify its position with the utmost accuracy. In areas where the positioning signal could be impaired the team is currently also developing a local IoT beacon network that could augment the precision of the robot’s movements.
Earth Automations is currently ramping up its activities with its development programme, allowing interested cultivators to test the robot on their own fields. In the past two years, they have been awarded numerous prizes, being the winners of the Galileo Masters Italy 2020, being invited to the EIMA Innovation Contest 2021, and securing an Agri in Web Innovation Award in 2021. The full commercialisation of the Dood is planned for the end of 2022.