Breakthrough tech to provide farm-wide wi-fi
Tractors and trucks will become roving WiFi devices with a range of up to 5 kilometres, as part of a new Food Agility CRC research collaboration to provide farm-wide internet coverage.
The project involves Australian agtech company, Zetifi, working alongside researchers at University of Technology Sydney and Charles Sturt University.
The team is building antenna arrays that can be fitted to mobile and stationary farming equipment to provide long-range communication. They aim to deliver a market solution within 18 months.
This is the first project to be announced as part of the Global Digital Farm, Australia’s first ‘hands-free farm’ at Wagga Wagga, where the technology will be trialled and tested.
Food Agility Chief Scientist, Professor David Lamb, said the new technology would be enabling infrastructure for Australian agriculture.
“Improving connectivity for Australian farmers is the single most critical factor in driving productivity and sustainability in agriculture,” Professor Lamb said.
“Farmers increasingly rely on high-level data analytics, automation and networks of devices that talk to each other over vast distances. This new technology will connect people and devices far beyond the farm gate and will be the backbone for the future of autonomous farming.”
Zetifi CEO, Dan Winson, said farmers deserved the same connectivity for their businesses as those in urban areas.
“I’ve seen farmers perform the most amazing acts of contortion, hanging out tractor windows and climbing up ladders, trying to get a decent connection,” Mr Winson said.
“This will be an Australian-designed solution, made for Australian conditions to deliver connectivity wherever it’s needed on the farm. It will complement NBN wireless broadband and satellite coverage, helping farmers to transfer critical data across our vast landscapes.”
The technology will be a combination of adapted off-the-shelf and bespoke solutions, including a custom antenna array.
“At the heart of communication systems providing long-range connectivity is an antenna. RFCT researchers will design and fabricate new types of antennas integrated with a custom radio frequency module to enable long-range communication in smart farms,” says Dr Negin Shariati, Co-Director, Radio Frequency and Communication Technologies Laboratory (RFCT) at UTS and Sensing Innovations Lead at Food Agility CRC.
Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre invests in world-leading research that will change the way we produce, supply and consume food. With our partners, we create new data-driven technology for the agrifood industry using AI, robotics, blockchain, sensors, advanced data analytics and more. We are funded by the Australian Government under its Cooperative Research Centre program and by our partners, which include agrifood businesses, technology companies, research institutions, agribusinesses and service providers.
The RF and Communications Technologies (RFCT) facility at University of Technology Sydney (UTS), brings together a team of highly qualified researchers and engineers with international and local experience. We aim to enable collaborative multidisciplinary and industry driven research and development at UTS. RFCT is a fully equipped facility and one of the only University R&D facilities in Australia capable of taking an idea from the conceptual/theoretical phase to a working prototype under one roof.
Media contact: Megan Tudehope on 0450 452 733 or at [email protected]