Can you imagine a tractor or an industrial-size lawn mower that operates autonomously in the fields without the need of a driver? Agricultural robots like these have been developed by the Danish company Agrointelli with the support of the EU project IntoCPS.

Photo of the autonomous Robotti robot working in the field

Digital farming and automated equipment have the potential to disrupt agriculture in Europe. However, developing new products such as autonomous robots requires testing and validation and typically the production of a number of costly prototypes, taking a long time before the product is ready for commercialisation.

With the help of INTO-CPS project, the Danish company Agrointelli has overcome those barriers, quickly taking their agricultural field robot ‘Robotti’ from a concept machine for research purposes through a prototype to a finished product ready for sale in 2018.

INTO-CPS has been able to reduce the time to market for this product thanks to the use of modelling and simulation tools, the so-called model-based engineering: instead of spending days fine-tuning control in the field, the design of the prototype could be optimised virtually without access to the physical machine itself, a test location, suitable weather conditions, etc.

Participating in the INTO-CPS project has also helped the Danish company Agrointelli to show preliminary results through virtual reality to potential collaborators and customers, something very important in the commercialisation of their product.  This sort of visualisations where used by Agrointelli for example in 2016, at the expo Agromek. There, participants could steer the robot from a tablet and visualise in 3D the corresponding motion on a monitor. This was not only a visual attraction, but also a key feature when telling the story about ‘Robotti’ to potential customers.

Extending results to other products

The good results of the work done in ‘Robotti’ have also helped to develop another product within the INTO-CPS project. In 2017 the project wanted to examine the reusability of the models already developed and thus created an autonomously steering an industrial-size lawn mower following the same principles.

The model architecture developed in ‘Robotti’ could be successfully reused to simulate the lawn mower, speeding up the development and making it possible to initiate, test and finalise the autonomous lawn mower entirely during the last year of the INTO-CPS project. In addition, the project combined the new models with the 3D animation in only 6 hours. This enables visualisations in 3D, to for example experience how it is to sit on top of the mower in a virtual setting.

Both ‘Robotti’ and the industrial-size lawn mower show how effective the model-based engineering developed in INTO-CPS can be to shorten the time to market for different products. Therefore, to extend these results beyond the life of the project, the "INTO-CPS Association" has been launched. The CEO of AgroIntelli, after the successful experience he had for his own company, is now the chairman of the Association. The goal of this initiative is to allow future case study owners access to information, training, and competitively priced licenses at various levels of support, so that they can also take their own products to the next level with the INTO-CPS tool suite.

Awards

Robotti was rated as a pioneering new innovation and won the Agromek Award in 2016 at the Agromek show in Herning, Denmark.

Project
Integrated Tool Chain for Model-based Design of Cyber-Physical Systems
Project Acronym
INTO-CPS
Project website