Sensors, apps, and robots: Bosch startup uses smart technology to support farmers

Automatic image recognition for improved yields

  • Agricultural robot gets rid of weeds automatically and without herbicides
  • Sensors and an app improve asparagus yield
  • Market launch of the Bosch startup Deepfield Robotics

Stuttgart, Germany – Dual premiere at Agritechnica, the world's largest agricultural technology trade fair in Hannover: the Bosch startup Deepfield Robotics is presenting connected sensors for improved asparagus yields, as well as its Bonirob agricultural robot (hall 9, booth F02). Both innovations are designed to improve agricultural quality and yield. To achieve this, Bosch has combined its expertise in sensor technology, automated navigation, algorithms, and image-recognition software. The advances in plant breeding made possible by these Bosch solutions will play an important part in helping to feed the constantly growing global population. Agricultural yields need to increase by roughly 3 percent a year to keep up with population growth.

The Bonirob agricultural robot
By automatically analyzing plants, the flexible Bonirob agricultural robot can also contribute to this progress. The robot is the same size as a compact car. It uses video- and laser-based positioning as well as satellite navigation to find its way around the fields. It knows its position to the nearest centimeter. With the help of cameras and computer-based image analysis, it recognizes and classifies plants. The is especially useful for plant breeders, who have to painstakingly analyze thousands of plants for plant size and color, fruit size and form, and insect damage. Based on these findings, they then decide which plant strains are worth pursuing further. The Bonirob is named after this plant appraisal process, which is known in German as Bonitur. “This automatic screening saves a lot of time and effort,” says Professor Amos Albert, the director of Deepfield Robotics.

Weed control with minimum environmental impact
However, Bonirob does not only speed up the plant-breeding process. On the basis of leaf shape, it can distinguish between crops and weeds. With the help of a precisely controlled rod, it gets rid of weeds mechanically, rather than with weed killer. Undesired plants are swiftly rammed into the ground. At the 2015 European Robotics Forum in Vienna this spring, Bonirob was singled out for a 2015 euRobotics Technology Transfer Award. The judges praised the idea of equipping the robot with modules for different tasks. Such modules, or “apps,” are available for tasks such as measuring soil density, mechanical weed removal, and plant breeding. In September, the German Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture Christian Schmidt presented the agricultural robot with the Deutscher Innovationspreis Gartenbau, a national award for innovation in horticulture.

Connected asparagus sensor
In Hannover, the Bosch startup is also presenting a radio sensor for better asparagus yields. Under the name “Deepfield Connect – Asparagus Monitoring,” the sensor measures the temperature in the beds where the vegetable is grown and transmits it to farmers' smartphones. Farmers can use this data to track the temperature changes of their crops in detail and optimize the growing conditions. In September, the Agritechnica innovation committee awarded this solution its silver medal. In explaining its decision, it stated that the wireless sensor increases the share of marketable produce and therefore boosts farmers' incomes. The system also saves time and money, as farmers need to visit their fields less frequently.

Sensors help set the optimum temperature
Asparagus grows especially well between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius. One way farmers maintain this temperature is by covering the mounds with strips of two-sided foil: one side is black, the other white. To heat the mounds using sunlight, the foil is laid with the black side facing up. To cool them when it gets too warm, the foil is laid with the white side facing up. The Bosch solution consists of several sensors embedded at various depths in the ground to measure the temperature. Cables send the temperature readings to a small box, which transmits the data via radio to a cloud that is based on the Bosch IoT Suite. From there the data is routed to an app on the farmer's smartphone. The Bosch IoT Suite is a comprehensive software solution that can be used to develop, provide, and operate applications in the internet of things.

Other Bosch innovations
At Agritechnica, Bosch Rexroth is presenting many innovations related to hydraulics, electronics, electrics, and software. They include a flexible mobile hydraulics valve platform for tractors. One of the highlights of the Bosch Automotive Aftermarket division's exhibition is the Bosch Surround View System, which gives the tractor driver a bird's eye view of the vehicle's surroundings and serves as an aid when maneuvering. A hybrid system for the off-highway segment is also on display (hall 17, booth G08).

Agritechnica trade fair
In Hannover from November 10 to 14, the Agritechnica trade fair is presenting the future of agricultural technology. At the world's largest trade fair of its kind, exhibitors from some 50 countries are presenting innovations for professional crop production.

Deepfield Robotics website:
Agritechnica 2015 website:
Details about the asparagus sensor:
Details about the Bosch IoT Suite:
Details about the internet of things:
Bosch Rexroth press folder:

Readers' contact:
Birgit Schulz, Deepfield Robotics
Phone: +49 173 7511489

Press contact:
Thilo Resenhoeft
Phone: +49 711 811-7088

Tags: Technology, App,

About Bosch

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 410,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2018). The company generated sales of 78.5 billion euros in 2018. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. As a leading IoT company, Bosch offers innovative solutions for smart homes, smart cities, connected mobility, and connected manufacturing. It uses its expertise in sensor technology, software, and services, as well as its own IoT cloud, to offer its customers connected, cross-domain solutions from a single source. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to deliver innovations for a connected life. Bosch improves quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.” The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 460 subsidiary and regional companies in over 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing, engineering, and sales network covers nearly every country in the world. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. At nearly 130 locations across the globe, Bosch employs some 68,700 associates in research and development.

The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.” The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant upfront investments in the safeguarding of its future. Ninety-two percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.

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