Yanmar Makes a SMASH in Italy
Yanmar is set to embark on an ambitious 2-year, 4 million Euro project in cooperation with 10 technology partners to develop a modular robotic system to monitor, analyze and manage agricultural crops. The Smart Machine for Agricultural Solutions Hightech (SMASH) project is co-financed under the Tuscany region of Italy and scheduled to run to 2020.
There can be few businesses as important as agriculture, an industry that directly affects the lives of everyone the world over. However, agriculture is beset by challenges from all sides. The amount of arable land is shrinking leading to a decline in the area under cultivation. At the same time, the number of farmers is also in decline with fewer and fewer young people joining the industry, as existing farmers age. The twin challenge facing agriculture then is to extract more food from each plot of land, while tackling an ever-growing man-power deficit.
Yanmar has taken up the challenge. Increasing mechanization takes the back-breaking labor out of the planting and harvest of ever more crops, while Yanmar research into advanced agricultural robotics sees automated and robot tractors work the fields, greatly increasing the area that a single person can cultivate. Meanwhile, drones ply the skies above fields identifying growth patterns and nutrient needs and delivering pesticides and fertilizers with pin-point accuracy.
The SMASH project aims to tackle problems related to food safety and environmental sustainability. With its extensive experience in robotics, automation and agricultural mechanization, Yanmar formed a consortium with its partners and submitted a proposal to the Tuscany government to participate in the SMASH project. Amid stiff competition, the submission was accepted, and the project will now develop a modular robotic platform employing the latest Information Communications Technology (ICT) to examine crops and soils, analyze gathered information and provide clear, actionable information to farmers to support crop management. Consisting of a mobile base, a robotic arm featuring manipulators and vision systems, a drone and an ancillary ground station, the system will monitor and control crops, take soil samples for analysis and accurately target agricultural chemicals for precision application. Crops currently slated for research include grapevines and spinach.
The project has already identified a vineyard farm in Pisa province where initial prototype testing will take place.
Yanmar and Partners
Yanmar's role will be twofold: to develop control systems for the multipurpose robotic arm for mobile manipulation (including precision spraying), and sensor integration for positioning technologies and autonomous navigation and software development for the control of the mobile base (in collaboration with other Partners).
Moreover, Marta Niccolini (Manager, Robotic Group Leader) is the official technical lead on the Project.
Yanmar will partner with the following companies in the project:
EDI: A mechanical and electronic engineering company that will develop the mobile base of the robotic system;
AvMap: technology and sensors for mobile base navigation;
Base s.r.l.: data transmission, data processing, cloud data storage;
Seintech: data analysis, data mining and machine learning;
Florence University, Agriculture Department: development of the end effectors;
IIT (Italian Institute of Technology): robotic system (Plantoid) to monitor and analyze the soil;
Sant'Anna Bio Robotic Institute: development of a manipulator to be installed on the robotic arm, to collect samples and manipulate items;
Copernico: preparation of drone for monitoring and mapping;
DORIAN: technologies and algorithms for machine vision;
Giuntini Filippo: agronomist.
With its involvement in this project, Yanmar adds ever greater breadth to its knowledge of agricultural robotics. Together with other projects in aerial, marine, industrial and agricultural robotics, Yanmar is meeting the challenges of the 21st century, to create a society where people can enjoy safe and plentiful food, and live and work with peace of mind towards A Sustainable Future for all.
Yanmar R&D Europe
Yanmar R&D Europe S.R.L. (YRE) was established in Italy, in June of 2011.
Focusing on mid- to long-term research in the development of intelligent energy management systems, renewable bioenergy plants, innovative engine control systems and integrated robotic systems, YRE has joined its strengths with those of local universities, research institutes and corporations, further advancing research activities in the field.
With beginnings in Osaka, Japan, in 1912, Yanmar was the first to succeed in making a compact diesel engine of a practical size in 1933. Then, with industrial diesel engines as the cornerstone of its enterprise, Yanmar has continued to expand its product range, services, and expertise to deliver total solutions as an industrial equipment manufacturer. As a provider of small and large engines, agricultural machinery and facilities, construction equipment, energy systems, marine equipment, machine tools, and components, Yanmar's global business operations span seven domains.
On land, at sea, and in the city, Yanmar's mission of "providing sustainable solutions focused on the challenges customers face, in food production and harnessing power, thereby enriching people's lives for all our tomorrows" is a testament to Yanmar's determination to provide us with "A Sustainable Future."