– We are the first to achieve that degree of precision, although the idea to determine the weight of a pig with a camera has been around for about 20 years. But the training part has been the Achilles heel of other attempts to develop similar systems, says Kartheeban Nagenthiraja, Director of dol-sensors, a company with 40+ years of experience in the agricultural sensor industry, producing more than 250.000 sensors a year.
According to Kartheeban Nagenthiraja a vision system can make a significant difference for the pig farmer, both in deciding what compound feed to use, and to predict when the animals have gained the correct weight to be shipped to the slaughterhouse.
RFID ear mark
Our goal was to achieve 3 per cent precision, meaning that the system should be able to assess a 100 kg animal to weigh between 97 and 103 kg. We achieved that goal. Currently our precision is 2,7 per cent and we are working on fine-tuning our algorithm to make it even more precise. We have designed the camera so that we can update it remotely with new versions of the software.
Just like the software part of the system, the hardware wasn’t straightforward either. Firstly, the camera had to be designed to withstand the environment in a pigsty, with dust and ammonia etc., requiring the electronics to be thoroughly encapsulated. Secondly, as an average pig farmer would need 30 to 40 cameras the device itself had to low-price, while still being made of industrial-grade components.
We started out with an Intel camera and a Firefly single board computer bought from Alibaba, development engineer and project manager Martin Svalgaard explains.
We kept most of the camera, but we soon realized we needed a better board. Data Respons Solutions was able to provide us with the right item at the right price. The iDOL 65 runs an ARM single board computer, an IMX8-based NXP system with an Intel based camera solution, and with sufficient headroom for future upgrades. Data Respons did a good job, and we’re very satisfied to work with them.
The iDOL 65 camera
Henrik Kai, TechPeople consultant and Linux specialist