Energy harvesting technology helps track animals

April 25, 2019 //By Ally Winning
Energy harvesting technology helps track animals
e-peas’ AEM10941 devices for photovoltaic energy harvesting are at the centre of animal tracking equipment used on Australian cattle ranches.

e-peas worked with Dutch systems integrator SODAQ on the development and implementation of livestock monitoring hardware for Brisbane-based mOOvement.

mOOvement’s smart tracker acquires data on cattle herds’ position and grazing patterns and can set alarms if individual animals are stationary or have breached boundaries. The tracker is attached to one of the cattle’s ears. The tracker has an accelerometer, a LoRa communication module (with built-in MCU), a GPS transceiver and a passive NFC tag.

The size and weight of the unit had to be low, restricting the surface size of the solar panel (19mm x 43mm), which would need to generate 0.089W. This required an ultra-efficient power management system. The units also have to be robust, with an expected lifespan of 5 years.

The full project took two years, with e-peas’ involvement lasting a year. The high energy conversion rate and the small footprint of the dual LDO regulated-output AEM10941 met this key criterion, as well as supporting a prolonged operational lifespan even in the Australian Outback, where exposure to extreme temperature conditions would be expected. Thousands of tracking units have already been deployed, with plans to scale further up in the near future.

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