The alternative to traditional refrigerated perishable goods transport took out the $20,000 top prize in the Nordic Semiconductor and Wevolver competition
A sustainable alternative to traditional refrigerated perishable goods transport that ensures cold chain preservation while reducing transport costs by 10 percent per kilometer, has won the inaugural Nordic Semiconductor and Wevolver ‘Connect for Good: Low Power Wireless Sustainability Challenge’. The ‘Monitoring and Anomaly Detection on Sustainable Logistics Infrastructure’ project headed by Ivan Arakistain from Spanish not-for-profit research institute, Tecnalia Research and Innovation, won the $20,000 top prize ahead of a solution for protecting threatened honey bees, and a biological reactor that harnesses microorganisms for capturing carbon from industrial flue gas.
Nordic Semiconductor partnered with sponsors Mouser Electronics Inc., Soracom and Crowd Supply to launch the Connect for Good Challenge on the Wevolver platform. The challenge invited organizations, individual engineers, start-ups, and students to submit a project that uses low power wireless technology to solve issues related to the United Nations’ (UN) Affordable and Clean Energy, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Climate Action, and Life on Land Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Entries were judged based on the technical and commercial feasibility of the solution, the level of innovation demonstrated, and the potential impact on the selected SDGs.
Reducing environmental impact
Tecnalia Research and Innovation’s logistics solution is designed to contribute to the shift towards a future scenario in which transportation has a low environmental impact and is connected, efficient, safe, and inclusive. It directly contributes towards the UN’s SDG’s by drastically reducing energy consumption for perishable goods transport and transitioning required energy sources to green ones. By enabling cold chain logistics companies to replace traditional vapor-compression refrigeration transportation with passive, insulated containers supervised by Tecnalia’s winning design, the carbon footprint of each truck can be reduced by 64 tonnes each year.
The solution itself employs the Nordic nRF9160 DK—a pre-certified single-board development kit integrating the nRF9160 SiP for LTE-M, NB-IoT, and GNSS connectivity and Nordic’s nRF52840 SoC for Bluetooth® LE connectivity—as well as a raft of sensors to monitor transport conditions including an accelerometer, magnetometer, lighting sensor, and ‘electronic nose’ air quality sensor for temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, and air quality readings. The device is powered by a 6,000 mAh solar-powered Li-Poly battery enabling it to be energy autonomous, thanks in part to the nRF9160 SiP’s PSM and eDRX power-saving functionality enabling it to sleep for longer periods of time.
I believe Tecnalia will be able to get this from an excellent proof-of-concept to a real world product that will have mass appeal to both haulage companies and supermarkets that are looking for ways to reduce their emissions
Claire Steed, Nordic Semiconductor Regional Sales Director and competition judge
The sensor data is securely relayed to blockchain-based backend services and applications using the nRF9160 SiP’s cellular network connectivity, from where it can be used to determine if smart logistics contracts have been satisfactorily fulfilled. For example, the data can reveal if, when, and where an asset has been mishandled—perhaps due to excessive vibration, temperature, or delay—and if damage has occurred, the blockchain contract can automatically penalize the courier company and compensate the customer.
Nordic Semiconductor Regional Sales Director and competition judge, Claire Steed, said the winner was an elegant solution to the issue of transporting perishable goods in a more sustainable way. “Using refrigerated trucks not only uses more energy, it allows logistics companies to potentially be more wasteful in the routes that are used,” says Steed. “The project has been well thought out and researched and I believe Tecnalia will be able to get this from an excellent proof-of-concept to a real world product that will have mass appeal to both haulage companies and supermarkets that are looking for ways to reduce their emissions to contribute towards a greener future.”
Accelerating project development
In addition to the $20,000 cash prize, the winner also received a year’s subscription to nRF Cloud Services for up to 500 devices (valued at $3,000), Soracom connectivity for each device, and a partnership with the challenge sponsors to provide the resources and hands-on support Technalia need to accelerate the development of the project.
Second place in the competition was awarded to Patrick Whetman for his ‘AI Honey Bee Swarm Detector’ that targets the conservation of native European dark bees on the island of Anglesey in North Wales from other honey bee species introduced by beekeepers. Third place was awarded to the ‘Carbonbox bioreactor’ developed by Aris Maaniq from Universitas Gadjah Mada in Indonesia. Targeted towards industries producing exhaust gas and those seeking net-zero emissions, the bioreactor captures carbon dioxide while simultaneously producing oxygen, leveraging cyanobacteria or micro-green-algae, which undergo photosynthesis. Second prize included a year’s subscription to nRF Cloud Services for up to 200 devices, Soracom connectivity for each device, and a customized public relations package. Third prize included a year’s subscription to nRF Cloud Services for up to 100 devices and Soracom connectivity.
“Nordic Semiconductor commends the winner and all of the entrants who have displayed remarkable ingenuity in pursuit of a sustainable planet using low power wireless connectivity,” says Geir Langeland, EVP Sales and Marketing, Nordic Semiconductor. “This is an ideology Nordic firmly shares, and we look forward to supporting all of these developers—big and small—on their journey to product commercialization.”