Project goals and outcomes
CROVER is centred around the commercialisation of the first proprietary technology for locomotion in bulk solids (for example, sand, grains and powders), through which the CROVER team has developed the world’s first ‘granular drone’ (that is a crover), in the sense of a device able to move through bulk solids and powders. While potential applications of the CROVER range from the minerals industry to chemicals powders (as well as space!), CROVER’s first product is a system for the monitoring and management of cereal grains stored in bulk (for example whole barley, paddy rice in sheds and silos).
Cereal grains are the basis of staple food, yet post-harvest losses during long-term storage are exceptionally high, at above 20% in the UK and worldwide. The CROVER Grain Storage Management system autonomously scans and mixes grain in bulk storage (for example in grain bins and sheds), to provide early detection of potential spoilage. It allows grain storage operators to reduce losses and maintain quality, while improving the health and safety of grain storage operators, who will no longer require to physically ‘walk’ on dangerous grain bulks.
With their project, the team advance the capabilities of the CROVER Robot and Storage Management system, to obtain improved positional accuracy, better its automation capabilities and transfer and visualise the collected data effectively.
Because most commercially available indoor localisation systems have been designed for tracking people and/or goods in offices and/or warehouses, they generally don’t have good vertical accuracy, they are designed to get through (at most) a couple of walls and aren’t suited for harsh environments such as those where grain and other dry bulks are stored.
The CROVER team have been leveraging the UMBRELLA network and the Bristol Robotics Lab’s facilities and the team’s expertise in indoor localisation to deliver better localisation and motion tracking of the CROVER robot.
Through their engagement with UMBRELLA, the technology readiness level of the CROVER Grain Storage Monitoring system increased to TRL7.
The team is planning to launch their first commercial version of the system in the months after the project end.
Thanks to the support received, the CROVER team grew to 14 full-time, staff and this has been a key driver of their success.
“The CRF Grant funding and access to the UMBRELLA network supported Diligensys to develop, test and validate two really exciting and relevant use cases.
This enabled Diligensys to extend its technical capabilities into the IoT space, which will generate opportunities for entering the exciting and ever expanding IoT market.
Without access to UMBRELLA facilities and funding, such a leap would have proven to be prohibitively expensive for a small-scale start-up like Diligensys.
The engagement with UMBRELLA enabled us to fast track our entry into the IoT space. The built-in sensors and data processing capabilities of UMBRELLA facilitated the implementation of a fully functional end-to-end proof of concept within a remarkably short period of time.”