A GMIT engineering student’s final year project — a prototype drone with integrated active RFID reader for monitoring livestock — has been shortlisted for the Innovation Arena Awards competition at this year’s National Ploughing Championships.
James Serridge from Castlerea, Co Roscommon grew up on a farm and has just completed his honours degree in Mechanical Engineering at GMIT.
“I always had an interest in machinery, electronics and engineering from a young age which led me to pursue mechanical engineering as a career.”
“My final year project is based on making life safer and easier for farmers”. he added.
To help reduce the number of incidents on-farm, he envisioned, designed and manufactured a prototype drone which he says is capable of monitoring livestock at a safe distance using First-Person View camera and active RDIF technologies.
How does it work?
“Currently, my drone can be piloted through the use of the First-Person View (FPV) technology, in which the live video feed from a camera mounted on the drone can be transmitted to goggles or alternatively to a TV/monitor.”
“However, with the embedded GPS and off the shelf Active RFID technology the drone, with further work, could be programmed for a mission to follow a specific serpentine flightpath around a farmer’s holding”.
When the active RFID technology is integrated and the drone is flown over an area, the reader mounted on the drone should interrogate and capture the transmitted livestock’s tag data within the proximity of the reader.
“This distance is typically 30 to 40 metres for active RFID technology. The drone’s onboard GPS could be then used to tag the animals’ location to the transmitted tag data.”
After the drone’s mission is completed, the acquired data, such as location, time and health information, could be relayed back to the farmer’s smartphone via either Wi-Fi or cellular technology. “Although drone use is ubiquitous, to my knowledge there are no drones currently on the market with integrated Active RFID technologies.” The young entrepreneur explained.
James’ supervisor, Dr Oliver Mulryan, GMIT Dept of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering said: “Anyone who has grown up on a farm knows the risks.”
“Around 25 farmers die annually in farm accidents, 30% of these fatalities arise due to livestock accidents.”
“Additionally, it can be time-consuming for some farmers to cover their holdings; the average farm size in Ireland is approximately 80-acres.” he concluded.