Industries Agriculture, Automation, AI
Year 2022-2023

Designing the interface for next generation, intelligent precision weeding & cultivation equipment.

FarmWise is an intelligent agricultural equipment business focused on building the next generation of technology-driven vision systems that power tomorrow's farm equipment with ultra precision. Vulcan is FarmWise's new weeding implement that packs cutting-edge computer vision into a lightweight, open frame for vegetable cultivation. It's powered by the Intelligent Plant Scanner, a high-performance, tightly integrated combination of camera, lighting, and computation elements that can identify, learn, scan and operate precise actuation control hardware & software for reliable and consistent sub-inch weeding accuracy in the traditional crop mix of the Western US vegetable industry.

They called on ZeroSixty to design & develop their next generation Vulcan HMI interface, connecting the tractor driver with FarmWise’s precision weeder - and creating a robust system of controls & connectivity to help drive cultivation precision, data collection, smooth operations, seamless interactivity and a future-proof platform to drive ongoing & future innovation.

Our design approach illuminated the unique nature of the HMI relationship and where new and emerging behaviour existed. We engaged in deep analysis of user needs and primary use cases, through prototyping & testing intricate control scenarios to ensure ease of use, flexibility and agility in controls, and operational simplicity. This simplicity is what truly drove our refinements and iterations - a proof of validation and readiness that revolved around the control of the physical equipment, context and continual control interaction and optimisation. The process took us to remote fields with prototypes and conversations with farmers. The end result is a successful companion to the physical equipment, and a valuable control platform that focuses on impact.

  • HMI
  • Experience Definition
  • Interaction Design
  • UI Design
  • 3D Rendering
  • Motion Design
  • Marketing
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We encountered numerous challenges designing a new platform for this type of industry and application, as in many ways it represents a new category and new relationship between human and machine. The intelligence layer, the numerous environmental variables - and a wide range of crop types, field configurations demanded a deep and comprehensive layer of control specificity, all in a hyper-usable UI that allowed operators to access and adjust everything in a simple, efficient, and intuitive interface.

The level of control refinements offered by the Vulcan precision weeder in terms of weeding parameter adjustments (blade opening width, blade opening speed, margins) is extremely granular and could easily be overwhelming for any operator. Working with powerful renderings and easy-to-understand imagery really allowed us to take a complex system and turn into a very simple and straightforward experience.

Thanks to the simplicity of the user interface, FarmWise’s first customer operator trainings were impressively short: it took, on average, a day for a customer operator to go from having no knowledge of the Vulcan precision weeding implement and its capabilities to being completely autonomous, operating the equipment on their own.

We employed a disciplined test-and-learn approach with a full end-to-end non-functional prototype early on in the process to get the platform into operators’ hands, in the field. This took us to remote rural areas, speaking with farmers and equipment operators to get a better sense of typical and edge-case scenarios, operational priorities, and the natural nuances that come with designing and using a system with complexity.

These iteration and refinement cycles were critical in the product design process, driving our design decisions through data and feedback - translating into a more informed, strategic solution with broader, more holistic product experience refinements - across both the physical machinery, the technology powering it, and the UX/UI we've designed that controls the entire platform.

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As designers, we're fascinated by this emerging world of intelligent machinery and the opportunities and challenges it presents. Through our careers, we've designed many of the leading in-car HMI infotainment and digital cluster experiences in modern vehicles - working with clients like Bentley, Ford, Lincoln, Ferrari and Volvo - and the new & emerging world of agri-tech and robotic/autonomous machinery represents an interesting and refreshing opportunity to solve old problems in a new ay. And as designers, this is what excites us.

Of course, the other layer to this is the AI and machine learning that powers the entire platform. The use of intelligence and deep refinement of a machine learning model are critical components to the ongoing precision and accuracy of the Vulcan platform. This is about leveraging emerging technology for analysis and accuracy purposes, leveraging new and forward-looking tools to learn and decipher complex data sets into refined operational algorithms. In the FarmWise Vulcan, machine learning is employed to detect crops from weeds and beneficial plants and locate the meristem of these, enabling extremely precise (sub inch) weed removal using soil disrupting blades. FarmWise has accumulated one of the largest plant databases currently serving a concrete use case creating value for farmers.

To merge this innovative and highly sophisticated technology out in the field is a fascinating merging of worlds. And from what we've seen through our client at Farmwise, the impact and real-world benefits are significant.

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An intuitive task-driven approach.

A design system that is tightly defined, highly documented and resolved as a shared library of components, target touch areas and a consistent interaction language - all done to drive ease of use, task completion, and real-time feedback.

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