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July 27, 2021

Validation of Asset Based Lending by Grazing Cattle using AI Monitoring System "PETER" started

Labor-saving of livestock industries in grazing and ABL efforts in financial institution by Edge-AI and LPWA technology

    Tokyo Institute of Technology
    Shinshu University
    Information Services International-Dentsu, Ltd.
    Farmnote Inc.
    TechnoPro, Inc. & TechnoPro Design Company
    The Kagoshima Bank,LTD
    Sakura Farm, Ltd
    Sony Group Corporation

    A joint project team in Japan have started field testing for Asset-Based Lending (ABL)1 applicability at Kuroshima Sakura Farm in Kuroshima island, Okinawa prefecture, which is known for the world-famous "Wagyu" cattle industry. The ABL approach employs cattle behavior monitoring system "PETER" developed by the project team aimed for labor-saving grazing management using edge-AI2 and LPWA (Low Power Wide Area)3 technologies. PETER, a remote state-estimation system on the edge, is expected to contribute to appropriate and efficient operation of ABL.

    The project has conducted by Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech), Shinshu University, Information Services International-Dentsu, Ltd. (ISID), Farmnote Inc., TechnoPro Inc. & TechnoPro Design Company, and Sony Group Corporation under the supervision of Tokyo Tech's Center of Innovation (COI) Research Center for the Earth Inclusive Sensing Empathizing with Silent Voices4 (EISESiV), cooperating with the Kagoshima Bank,LTD. Field tests will be completed by conducted through March 2022. The outcome of the field tests is expected to pave the way for a more sustainable livestock industry.

    Cattle equipped with PETER at Sakura Farm in grazing field.

    Background of the Field Tests

    Recently, cows are recognized as a movable property which can be used for ABL. This recognition is expected to improve management in livestock industry. On the other hand, when cows are in grazing field, it takes long time or huge labor cost to confirm the number of cows and conditions of cows. The joint project team has been working on cattle monitoring operations at low-cost with attention for improving animal welfare5.

    Since April 2019, the team conducted several field tests in the Shinshu University farm. They developed collar type edge-devices for cows in grazing field and executed technology verification of cattle behavior estimation regarding complicated information concerning cattle postures and behaviors (eating, drinking water, prone posture, standing and walking positions, ruminating etc.). As a result, the team has developed cow state-estimation system "PETER" composed of collar type edge-device and cloud system.

    The project team has attempted a field test in the Kuroshima Sakura Farm to apply the developed PETER system to ABL. Cooperating with the Kagoshima Bank who has been active in livestock ABL and Kuroshima Sakura Farm who is focusing on beef cattle farming in grazing field, the team will verify efficiency and applicability of PETER to ABL for cows in grazing. The functions of PETER will be reviewed for both side of ABL operations for banks and pasture management for livestock farms.

    Objectives of the Field Tests

    Ten different PETER edge-device are to be attached on ten different cows' necks in Kuroshima Sakura farm. The location data and classified cow-behavior data will be captured by PETER edge-device, and to be sent to PETER cloud with LPWA technology. In addition, the environmental data at Kuroshima Sakura Farm are gathered and sent to PETER cloud. The combination of these data can be observed by users with PETER application, which monitors cattle in the grazing field. The team will extract effective data items for bank's ABL operation, then verify the way of providing data to bank from PETER cloud. The team pursuits effective cooperation between bank and livestock farm and promote livestock ABL in cattle industry through this trial using PETER for ABL.

    Features of cattle management system "PETER"

    "PETER" is a complete management system for cattle groups in grazing field, developed by the project team. "PETER" edge-devices attached to individual cows can not only acquire the location information of each cow but also estimate their behaviors such as walking, eating, ruminating and prone posture by using edge-AI. These collected data are analyzed and processed locally on the devices, and only most essential and small amount of data are sent to the cloud at very low power by "ELTRES"6, a Sony original LPWA technology. Thanks to these advantage, tens of kilometers connectivity can be achieved with longer device battery lifetime. "PETER" has a dedicated application which has unique and user-friendly interface, designed based on interviews with farmers in livestock industry. In addition to the joint team, ART&PROGRAM, Inc. and Sakai Design Associate Ltd. supported development of "PETER" edge-device. ELTRES communication antenna uses DP-929-INF1-100 (product of Nippon Antenna Co., Ltd.) verified and measured by Nippon Antenna Co., Ltd.

    Figure 1: Future vision of livestock industry
    Figure 2: User interface of PETER (Provided by Dr. Takumi Ohashi, Assistant Professor, Tokyo Tech)

    The roles of each organization

    Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech)

    Tokyo Tech functions as a team leader during research and development. Tokyo Tech also developed PETER edge, PETER cloud and its user-interface. Additionally, it conducted discussions regarding the spread of the new system to livestock farmers and took charge of research concerning the social acceptability of animal welfare.

    Shinshu University

    Shinshu University participated in research and development as a subleader. Based on data concerning cattle behavior obtained from the Education and Research Center of Alpine Field Science (AFC), attached to the Faculty of Agriculture, the university prepared instructor data for use in learning regarding Edge AI, reviewed behavioral classifications through Edge AI processing, and took charge of research into rearing environment maintenance and Edge device installation methods appropriate in terms of animal welfare.

    Information Services International-Dentsu, Ltd. (ISID)

    ISID as a member of the joint team, provides "PETER cloud" service and analyzing data through its FACERE® cloud service. Additionally, ISID supports management among the project team, The Kagoshima Bank,LTD. and Kuroshima Sakura Farm and verifies effectiveness of cow's classified data to livestock ABL point of view.

    Farmnote Inc.

    Farmnote Inc. specialized on cow group management system "Farmnote cloud" and sells related products; cow vital monitoring device "Farmnote Color". Farmnote also provides reporting service" Farmnote Compass" which indicates what are the issues in livestock workplace based on the data gathered in Farmnote cloud. For the field test, Farmnote cooperating with Tokyo Tech, Shinshu Univ. and ISID, provides cow vital monitoring technology and know/how to the joint team which aims at implementation of PETER. Since Farmnote is a member of "An individual cow monitoring by IoT consortium" which promotes smart agriculture demonstrating project "Verifying low cost IoT monitoring system for an individual cow to promote ABL for fattened cattle" supported by Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Farmnote is in charge of investigating issues of livestock ABL and implementation to livestock industry.

    TechnoPro, Inc. & TechnoPro Design Company (TechnoPro)

    TechnoPro conducts joint research with Tokyo Tech as an industry-academia partnership. Having rich experience in research projects in industry field, as a member of the project, TechnoPro is in charge of development of core technologies such as "edge-AI", "cloud", "application based on LPWA communication". TechnoPro is also involved in planning, requirement definition, implementation, including interview to livestock farmers.

    The Kagoshima Bank,LTD.

    The Kagoshima Bank,LTD. provides financing using ABL, which is based on its original "Agri-cluster concept" for fattened cattle. Based on rich experiences of ABL for cattle, The Kagoshima Bank,LTD. supports the field test from financial institution's point of view, and tries to diversify raising campaign funds for livestock farmers.

    Kuroshima Sakura Farm, Ltd.

    Kuroshima island in Okinawa prefecture is so called cow island since there are more than 3000 cows while human population is about 220. Kuroshima Sakura Farm located near Kuroshima harbor has a large grazing field for raising healthy cows. Through the field test, cooperating with the team, Kuroshima Sakura Farm takes advantage of PETER function and advises improvement points of PETER to the team.

    Sony Group Corporation

    Sony Group Corporation supports Tokyo Tech (COI) Research Center for the Earth Inclusive Sensing Empathizing with Silent Voices as a core member. For the field test, Sony Group Corporation R&D Center cooperates technology development through providing its low power processor board and LPWA network solutions.

    Research Center for the Earth Inclusive Sensing Empathizing with Silent Voices

    Figure 3:
    Concept of the Earth Inclusive Sensing Empathizing with Silent Voices

    Tokyo Tech (COI) Research Center for the Earth Inclusive Sensing Empathizing with Silent Voices (Project leader: Toshiyuki Hiroi, Chief Engineer, R&D Center Sony Group Corporation; Research leader: Hitoshi Wakabayashi, Professor, Tokyo Tech) has been conducting research and development related to this project as a hub of the Center of Innovation program promoted by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) since April 1, 2018.

    As humanity pursues a higher quality of life through economic development, prosperous coexistence with other species that inhabit Earth's limited environments will become increasingly crucial. By lending its ears to and empathizing (inclusive sensing) with silent voices that reverberate from beyond the mere scope of human civilization, the research center aims to achieve cycles that allow people to independently resolve issues involving humans, society and the environment through Earth-friendly action with low environmental impact.

    The field test is conducted by the COI Team for Empathy with Silent Voices of Animals (Leader: Dr. Hiroyuki Ito, Associate professor in the Institute of Innovative Research, Tokyo Tech; Sub-leader: Dr. Kenichi Takeda, Associate Professor of Faculty of Agriculture, Shinshu University). The joint team is promoting the establishment of common hardware and software platforms that thematize listening to the silent voices of cattle and advocating for research themes such as the spread of animal welfare in the dairy farming and livestock industries.

    1. Asset Based Lending (ABL): Financing method. Loan that is secured by an asset (or assets) such as inventory goods, raw materials, machinery and equipment, and accounts receivable.
    2. Edge AI: A system in which an Edge mechanism equipped with sensors and other devices performs AI processing normally conducted via the cloud.
    3. LPWA: "Low Power Wide Area". The term of one of the wireless communication technologies covering a broader area and requiring less power consumption.
    4. Silent voices: Cohesive data regarding previously unquantifiable and unnoticed phenomena inherent in Earth's nature, the mountains near its villages, its societies and its people that has been made tangible through the use of both new and existing sensor technology. Tokyo Tech COI states that it is using AI processing to allow us to "hear" these voices by making the data acquired through this sensor technology interpretable or converting it into information that is relevant to humans.
    5. Animal welfare: The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) defines "animal welfare" as "the physical and mental state of an animal in relation to the conditions in which it lives and dies (whether killed for food, fiber and other animal products or euthanized for the purposes of disease control).The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) positioned animal welfare as one of the means for sustainable livestock production, therefor adopting animal welfare is now world trends.
    6. ELTRES™: Sony original standard for Low Power Wide Area network equipped with GPS. It has long-distance transmission capability at range of over 100km.
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