Second-Generation Services of “e-kakashi”, an IoT Farming Solution Equipped with CPS
—Trilateral Joint Development to Start in 2018—
Three members of the PS Solutions Corp. (“PS Solutions,” based in Minato-ku, Tokyo, led by Amane Kito, affiliated with SoftBank Group), CKD Corporation (“CKD,” based in Komaki, Aichi, led by Kazunori Kajimoto), and Ericsson Japan K.K. (“Ericsson Japan,” based in Minato-ku, Tokyo, led by Mikael Eriksson and Toru Nozaki), will collaborate to develop the second-generation services of “e-kakashi”, an IoT farming solution equipped with Artificial Intelligence (AI)*1 and a Cyber Physical System (CPS)*2.
PS Solutions will enhance the AI of “e-kakashi”, which the company already supplies, and add remote control features. PS Solutions will also achieve remote control and automation that are necessary for farming by applying the IoT Accelerator developed by Ericsson for improving communication and remote control features and by connecting the actuators developed by CKD.
As the first step, PS Solutions will start providing remote-controlled automated services in 2018 that include: (1) controlling the environment of horticultural facilities (plastic greenhouses) by AI, (2) mixing, diluting and spreading liquid fertilizers and (3) sprinkling (watering) paddy fields, other fields and greenhouses.
At the 4th Next Generation Agriculture Expo to be held from October 11, 2017, a booth for the second-generation “e-kakashi” services will be built to present the concept of this service.
*1 The AI of “e-kakashi” is a hybrid of rule-based inference and model-based inference that is built on expertise and scientific evidence and is complemented with machine learning.
*2 Here, the Cyber Physical System (CPS) refers to the mechanism for analyzing open data and data collected by the sensors and feed the results back to the physical actuators to control them.
■Features of the second-generation “e-kakashi”
- Equipped with AI-powered remote control features based on agricultural knowledge
The “e-kakashi”, which has a proven track record, will be equipped with AI-operated remote control features in addition to analysis and farming navigation features. AI will decide how to control the task that needs to be performed at the moment from a farming perspective, instead of using a simple logic—such as opening and closing the windows when the temperature in the facility reaches certain degrees—by making the AI learn the parameters for farming such as at what growth stage the crops are at, how high their sugar content should be, how large they should be and region-specific know-how on farming.
- Improved connectivity and openness with standard technologies
The LWM2M protocol, a technical standard, is used for the flexible connection of LWM2M-compliant sensors and actuators to “e-kakashi”. Furthermore, no additional communication equipment is needed because “e-kakashi” is equipped with IoT mobile communication* features for directly connecting to devices over a cellular network.
* It supports protocols that meet Release 13 standardized by 3GPP, an organization for establishing international standards, such as NB-IoT and Cat-M1.
- Easy to install, capable of enabling one or more device to be automatically controlled
The automatic control features exist in the cloud, thereby eliminating the need to install a separate control panel in the farming facility. In addition, actuators are available one by one and can be linked to existing devices. For example, to automate the opening and closing of a facility’s windows to regulate the temperature, it is possible to deploy only the relevant actuators and they will be automatically controlled by “e-kakashi” in the cloud. In fiscal 2018, carbon dioxide generators and heat pumps will be available.
The second-generation “e-kakashi” will accelerate the evolution of agricultural IoT environments through providing flexible connectivity with various sensors and actuators in addition to the improved features of the first generation, which was highly acclaimed as a high-end model in the agricultural IoT field for analysis, the recording and retaining of regional farming techniques, and the cultivation navigation based on plant science.
Going forward, the trilateral technical collaboration between PS Solutions, CKD and Ericsson Japan will offer various IT applications for agriculture of the future through “e-kakashi”. The launch date, details and specifications of the second-generation “e-kakashi” will be published on the official “e-kakashi” website.
Official website: https://www.e-kakashi.com/
■Companies’ roles in the development of the second-generation “e-kakashi”
PS Solutions will provide services as the “e-kakashi” project owner. The company is in charge of the research and development of the unique integration of AI and farming from perspectives of agricultural information engineering, agriculture, plant science and farming, and will continue evolving “e-kakashi” to CPS services for agriculture.
CKD will provide services and features that allow environmental control including appropriate temperature regulation for crop cultivation in the field of greenhouse horticulture, and the remote automation of mixture and dilution of liquid fertilizer by leveraging the fluid control and automation technologies the company has developed in the field of factory automation. With the fluid control and automation technologies, the company will contribute to improving crop quality and productivity as well as farmers’ work flexibility.
Ericsson Japan will contribute to the “e-kakashi” project by offering IoT Accelerator in a SaaS model to continuously provide the most advanced IoT solutions consisting of a variety of features including IoT platform services, mobility, device and data management, analysis, billing, security and portal sites.
■Overview of the 4th Next Generation Agriculture Expo
- Dates ：October 11 (Wed)–13 (Fri), 2017
10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. (13 (Fri) until 5:00 p.m.)
- Venue ： Makuhari Messe
- Event URL： http://www.agritechjapan.jp/en/tokyo/
- Product name ： “e-kakashi”
- Exhibition booth number： 40-40
- Category ： IT solution (farming support)
- Characteristics ：“Car navigation? No, it’s time to navigate agriculture.”
“e-kakashi” not only preserves and inherits expert producers’ highly accumulated farming know-how including intuition and experience, but also proposes new ways of agricultural production using environmental data and plant science. In addition, “e-kakashi” automatically achieves optimal facility control.
“e-kakashi” is an agricultural IoT solution that navigates farming. It collects from the fields environmental information including temperature, humidity, the amount of solar radiation, the temperature and water content in the soil, CO2, and EC, as well as growth information. The collected data is analyzed by the Hybrid AI, based on plant science, which helps identify important growth and obstructive factors on each stage. “e-kakashi” navigates the user to an optimal growth environment by providing information such as what risks there are now and how they should be handled.
Knowledge on farming can be recorded as “ek recipes” and shared with multiple users. “e-kakashi” thereby helps make farming, instruction and agriculture more accurate and efficient.
■PS Solutions Corp. Profile
- Headquarters ：4F, Shiodome City Center, 1-5-2 Higashi-Shimbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 105-7104 JAPAN
- Chairman & CEO：Amane Kito
- Capital ：100 million yen, fully funded by SoftBank Group International GK
- URL ：https://en.pssol.co.jp/
■CKD Corporation Profile
- Head Office：250, Ouji 2-chome, Komaki, Aichi, 485-8551, Japan
- President ：Kazunori Kajimoto
- Capital ：11.016 billion yen
■Ericsson Japan K.K. Profile
- Headquarters：MOMENTO SHIODOME 2-3-17, Higashi-Shimbashi, Minato-Ku, Tokyo, 105-0021, Japan
- Presidents, Representative：Directors Mikael Eriksson, Toru Nozaki
- Capital ：320 million yen
* SoftBank, SoftBank's equivalent in Japanese and the SoftBank logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of SoftBank Group Corp. in Japan and other countries.
* PS Solutions, e-kakashi and the e-kakashi logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of PS Solutions Corp.
* Any other product, company and organization names are trademarks or registered trademarks of the relevant companies.