Autonomous agriculture company Blue White Robotics collaborated with Federated Wireless and Intel to make a California winery's existing farm equipment autonomous and capable of working in a fleet.

The 3 companies adapted existing farm equipment to perform autonomous tasks and connected the fleet over a private wireless network. Agriculture operations face many unique challenges when it comes to networking and are generally spread out over a large area, often in remote locations where public carrier broadband wireless is limited and can be costly to implement. Low-latency, high-bandwidth wireless communications through a shared spectrum-enabled private wireless network were essential to realizing the level of automation achieved in this use case.

Federated Wireless deployed a private wireless network in less than 3 days that covered the vineyard’s 2.1 square miles. The network leveraged Intel Smart Edge and an edge server with a six-core Intel Xeon D-1528 processor to successfully connect a mix of autonomous tractors, sensors and other data points.

An adaptive autonomous kit developed for agriculture by Blue White Robotics converts a typical tractor into a fully autonomous vehicle, giving growers the ability to leverage known assets with the flip of a switch. Blue White Robotics’ solution can automate a variety of tasks, including spraying, discing and dusting. A single operator can then manage a fleet of adapted autonomous tractors working across a very wide area.

Edge intelligence and edge analytics are critical to the success of this solution to speed and simplify AI development and deployment, enabling the robotics to deliver real-time insights. Centralized management of the autonomous tractors fleet is only one benefit of the private wireless network. It can also provide real-time awareness data, such as video feeds. Through edge processing, the tractor can analyze and transmit detailed data about its operations and the vineyard’s conditions.

The flexible approach to autonomous agriculture developed by this collaboration provides a new path for growers to improve outcomes with lower labor costs and less human error, while increasing farm-wide productivity. Opportunities for employing agricultural autonomous solutions in ruggedized environments, such as dense tree canopies or rich fruit crops, become ripe for these solutions in the near future.

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