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Agricolture and embedded technologies: a simple GPU design

THE SCENARIO:

The agricultural area plays a central role in the survival of the human species, thus placing itself at the foundation of the production chain: it is rightly called the "primary sector". In this context, it is clear that the effect of high-quality goods with all new technologies integrated is essential nowadays.

First of all, the fields have to be measured, so the resources needed can be estimated. Then, after the soil has been plowed, seed drills can be filled: the properties of the harvest, nevertheless, can profoundly range between seasons and even within a single field, because it does not only depends on market requests but soil fertility and usage. It is, therefore, crucial to employ the crops alternately and in combination, further considering the time of fallow. At a later stage, during sowing, it is necessary to optimize the use of resources, so that they can be correctly distributed along the plowed furrows.

THE CONTEXT:

The objective of this scenario is, therefore, to simplify the work of the farmer through a system that simplifies the interaction with the tools mounted on the tractor and their use in the fields.

The first goal of this plan is to "give eyes to a blind" system, adding a visual display as a GUI, tracking data about the ongoing job done by the tool. Secondly, the system should consider the farmer's work and his needs, but at the same time must necessarily be easy-learning, easy-understanding and above all, fastly-operative. The third purpose is the cost, which should be as little as possible and adaptable to a broad public.

DAVE Embedded Systems' KEY ROLE:

DAVE Embedded Systems has renowned expertise and ability in designing and building FPGA software and hardware, extensive know-how that adds a great value to its production and collaboration. For all requirements described in the context, the solution adopted by DAVE Embedded Systems in this regard is a graphical accelerator controlled by an FPGA, similar to those employed in the domotic sector. This “GPU” is cheap and works together with the local Microcontroller which is devoted to control the process and has not graphical capabilities.

ABOUT THE CUSTOMER:

The Company operates in the agricultural sector, especially the one related to Precision Farming and rural tools, which also takes care of the customization of the associated electronic systems: its core business covers multiple areas including graphics, hardware, and software, both for the main machine than for control and accuracy accessories. Their products, hence, already have a control platform but it was prevalently analogic: they needed a partner able to manage the graphic components to act as an interface between the tractor and its tools and the farmer. In DAVE Embedded Systems the customer found the proper solution and long-lasting trustable collaboration able to add value to each device.

APPLICATION BLOCK DIAGRAM:

In this application block diagram, the product's characteristics are presented:

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