Crover Robot Revolutionises Crop Management

By Matt Williams -

A unique burrowing robot which ‘swims’ through grain bulks to ensure crops are stored more efficiently has been launched by agri-tech developer Crover, a new tenant of the world-leading centre for robotics and artificial intelligence the National Robotarium.

The t-shaped robot, which is being funded by Innovate UK, Scottish Enterprise and private funders, has been designed to offer grain aggregators, like farmers, better insight into the environmental conditions of grain crops, such as wheat and barley when stored in sheds or silos. Traditional processes for store checks, which rely on manual sampling with a spear, are often time-consuming, labour intensive and potentially hazardous.

Crover’s compact device has in-built moisture and temperature sensors and uses two domed-shaped wheels to propel itself through grain or other material in a bulk stack. It then feeds back analysis and data to a dashboard, giving users a more accurate understanding of the grain’s condition.

Temperature and humidity have a profound impact on grain storage and can contribute to the infestation of mould or insects which cause farmers to destroy significant portions of their stored crops. It is estimated that up to 30% of commodity grain is lost from the supply chain globally every year as a result.

The Edinburgh-based start-up has recently taken up residency at the National Robotarium, a pioneering new £22.4 million research facility which officially opened its doors in September 2022. Informed by sectoral needs, the facility works collaboratively with partners around the globe to define, develop and resolve industry challenges through the application of robotics and AI. Crover will benefit from the National Robotarium’s incubation facilities, state-of-the-art labs and engineering expertise.

The National Robotarium is part of the Data-Driven Innovation initiative, supported by £21 million from the UK Government and £1.4 million from the Scottish Government. The initiative aims to turn Edinburgh into the data capital of Europe and is part of the wider £1.3 billion Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Region Deal.

Lorenzo Conti is founder and managing director of Crover. He said:

“Traditional methods like spear sampling grain are time-consuming and laborious and quite often impractical and dangerous. In practice, grain storage operators are advised to sample bulk stacks at every 50 cm intervals. The reality is that, if done manually, someone could spend the best part of a week carrying out a single store check depending on the size of their crop load.

“Our device is designed to be controlled from one spot and saves whoever is operating it many hours of work as well as improving accuracy. The robot can ‘swim’ through the grain quickly generating a 3D map of temperature and moisture across the stack. This kind of insight can help people like farmers to better understand the condition of their grain and make informed decisions earlier like increasing ventilation or taking pest control measures. 

“Working with the National Robotarium has significantly supported Crover’s development by providing us with access to state-of-the-art office and lab facilities and an extensive ecosystem of collaborators, industry experts and academic teams. It’s rare to be surrounded by a team who understand what it means to develop complex robots and we’re excited to continue sharing Crover’s journey with them.” 

Steve Maclaren is Chief Operating Officer at the National Robotarium. He said:

“The National Robotarium was launched with a mandate to assist all types of partners to accelerate research from laboratory to market, reduce cost and risk, increase opportunity and, ultimately, pave the way for the UK to take a global leadership role in AI and robotics technology.

“Innovations like Crover’s grain storage device – which could help solve a global problem for the world’s agriculture sector – are a great example of this mandate in action.

“The National Robotarium continues to be a leading collaborative hub, bringing together academics and global companies. Working with tenant companies like Crover, we want to provide a catalyst for entrepreneurship, and deliver sustainable economic benefit to the whole of the UK, its industries and society.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland, Malcolm Offord, said:

“It’s fantastic to see that farming and food and drink-boosting innovations like Crover’s new ‘grain-surfing’ robot will benefit from being part of the National Robotarium. 

“Projects like this demonstrate the collaborative benefits the hub is providing, with resulting economic and environmental advances delivered to the UK.

“The UK Government is supporting the National Robotarium facilities at Heriot-Watt University with £21 million as part of more than £2.2 billion investment to level up communities across Scotland.”

Scottish Government Wellbeing Economy Secretary, Neil Gray, said:

“I welcome the development of this technology to help grain storage operators better understand the condition of grain and make informed decisions earlier.

“Technological advances like this show why the Scottish Government has supported the Robotarium through the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.”

Find out more about Crover.

Also, stay up to date with the most recent machine vision and image processing news right here on MVPro Media.

Most Read

ElectricBrands Brings E-Mobility Concept to London

byMatt Williams

May 26, 2023

The German e-mobility start-up, ElectricBrands, is presenting the XBUS in the UK for the first...

Beyond the Costumes: Dinosaurs Unveiled at Automate

byMatt Williams

May 30, 2023

Seven women in engineering and manufacturing embrace visibility to encourage opportunities for all. Attendees at...

Computex 2023: Innodisk Expands AIoT Presence

byMatt Williams

May 26, 2023

Innodisk is aggressively transforming into an AIoT solutions provider by demonstrating its AI development progress...

Teledyne: New Line Scan Camera in Production

byMatt Williams

May 31, 2023

Teledyne’s backside-illuminated TDI line scan camera delivers greater sensitivity for near-ultraviolet and visible imaging. Teledyne...

Hainbuch Smart Factory: Fully Automated Production

byMatt Williams

May 31, 2023

24/7 production with automated clamping device change-over from Hainbuch, even for batch size 1. Hainbuch's...

Chromasens Upgrades GenICam Camera Tool

byMatt Williams

May 31, 2023

Chromasens has announced a major upgrade to its GenICam Camera Tool (GCT), a user interface...

Wireless Smart Bandage Brings Drug-Free Care

byMatt Williams

May 30, 2023

A new generation of wirelessly-powered, environmentally-friendly ‘smart bandages’ could help patients with non-healing wounds avoid...