Award-winning French company Agreenculture has developed an affordable GNSS RTK-based guidance system for surveying and robotic machine operations in agriculture. AGC Box is rugged, easy to use and flexible, and provides precise and reliable positioning and navigation.
GNSS technologies continue to make possible new, innovative systems for agricultural applications, allowing farmers to maximize operational efficiency and meet the growing demand for crop production.
Agreenculture is a Toulouse-based company that designs, develops and produces autonomous solutions for agriculture. Agreenculture’s ‘CEOL’ robot is guided by a special device called AGC Box. The device fuses various sensor and positioning input data and includes a GNSS RTK module developed by the company. The result is automatic, centimeter-accurate steering, making machine automation affordable for smaller farmers.
AGC Box starts out as a land surveying system. This is a crucial first step where field and crop plots are virtualized and a precise 3D map is created for later use by farm machines. The system takes field measurements and draws a virtual fence around the work area.
The AGC Box can guide a single or a fleet of robots, constantly calculating best trajectories while avoiding obstacles. Real time kinematics allow the robotic device to adapt continuously to the complexity of fields and crop layouts.
The AGC Box complies with CANopen industrial international standards. Equipped with three CAN buses, it can easily interface with a range of agricultural machines and tools. It has a single connector, for easy installation, and can operate using any power supply, ranging from 9 to 36 volts. Other features include a 4G permanent coverage antenna, corrosion-resistant aeronautical grade, 6061 aluminum casing for external mounting, a tri-frequency, automotive-grade, GNSS receiver for certified ASIL B RTK positioning, an inertial unit and LoRa 2 connectivity. With LoRa and 4G communication protocols, machines are always within the farmer’s reach, via smartphone or tablet.
Agreenculture has been working to perfect its GNSS RTK positioning system since 2016. In 2018, it won the France Galileo Masters prize, a competition co-organized by the European Union, The European Space Agency (ESA) and France’s National Center for Space Studies (CNES), among others. These awards go to innovative, satellite navigation-based applications. Agreenculture also launched its artificial intelligence department in 2018.
One of the company’s driving interests is in developing affordable systems for smaller farming operations that may not have a lot of resources. The company’s President, Christophe Aubé, has said GNSS technologies are the only means to meet the need for precise, reliable and effective positioning solutions at a low cost. In many areas of the world, where small and medium-sized farms struggle to make ends meet, there is simply no money available to install sophisticated ground-based reference or correction systems.
The AGC Box is designed to run robotic farm machines, but it can also be fitted to standard tractors. Agreenculture does plan to provide dedicated correction services for precise autonomous solutions like farm robots and safe autonomous tractors in the future.