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Using AI to make farm equipment safer

Using AI to make farm equipment safer

Machine Eye can shut down a tractor or PTO if it senses danger

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

An Irish startup has created a product that can help farmers operate equipment safely.

Brendan Digney, a farmer and electrical engineer from Newry, Ireland, developed Machine Eye, which producers can install on tractors and other equipment.

Machine Eye replaces regular spotlights “with an intelligent work light” and works like a conventional light but “with added safety functionality,” the company’s website says.

The product includes a sensor package, a central control unit for sensor inputs and electronic control systems that communicate with the tractor. The system uses artificial intelligence to study farmer behaviour as he or she operates the equipment and is focused on the PTO.

If Machine Eye senses a dangerous situation, it can shut down the PTO or the tractor.

“Accidents on farms exist at times when farmers are busy,” Digney told TechWatch. “Long days and weather can add to stressful conditions. Also, repetition leads to complacency, contributing to accidents. When the behaviour of the user and the conditions of the machine are on a path towards danger, Machine Eye triggers an automatic reaction in the machine.”

The product can also differentiate between objects. A cow wouldn’t trigger a reaction from Machine Eye, but a person would, Digney said.

“We don’t remove the need for users to act safely around their machine – we augment the operator,” he told TechWatch.

The technology community has recognized Digney’s company for its work.

Machine Eye took home first place at the Queen’s University Belfast Dragon’s Den startup competition and won an innovation award at this year’s National Ploughing Championships.

Digney is running tests on his family farm and hopes to bring Machine Eye to farmers next year.

“As a safety product, we don’t want to bring a product to market until we’re happy with it,” he told TechWatch. “We’re perfectionists, so it needs to be perfect.”

Farms.com has reached out to Machine Eye for more information.

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