WO2010138994A1 - Power transmission to mobile devices on animals - Google Patents

Power transmission to mobile devices on animals Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2010138994A1
WO2010138994A1 PCT/AU2010/000654 AU2010000654W WO2010138994A1 WO 2010138994 A1 WO2010138994 A1 WO 2010138994A1 AU 2010000654 W AU2010000654 W AU 2010000654W WO 2010138994 A1 WO2010138994 A1 WO 2010138994A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
power
animal
system
receiver
transmitter
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/AU2010/000654
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Michael Bruenig
Tim Wark
Dave Swain
Original Assignee
Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to AU2009902509 priority Critical
Priority to AU2009902509A priority patent/AU2009902509A0/en
Application filed by Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation filed Critical Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation
Publication of WO2010138994A1 publication Critical patent/WO2010138994A1/en

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B5/00Near-field transmission systems, e.g. inductive loop type
    • H04B5/0025Near field system adaptations
    • H04B5/0037Near field system adaptations for power transfer
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01KANIMAL HUSBANDRY; CARE OF BIRDS, FISHES, INSECTS; FISHING; REARING OR BREEDING ANIMALS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; NEW BREEDS OF ANIMALS
    • A01K11/00Marking of animals
    • A01K11/006Automatic identification systems for animals, e.g. electronic devices, transponders for animals
    • A01K11/008Automatic identification systems for animals, e.g. electronic devices, transponders for animals incorporating GPS
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01KANIMAL HUSBANDRY; CARE OF BIRDS, FISHES, INSECTS; FISHING; REARING OR BREEDING ANIMALS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; NEW BREEDS OF ANIMALS
    • A01K29/00Other apparatus for animal husbandry
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02JCIRCUIT ARRANGEMENTS OR SYSTEMS FOR SUPPLYING OR DISTRIBUTING ELECTRIC POWER; SYSTEMS FOR STORING ELECTRIC ENERGY
    • H02J17/00Systems for supplying or distributing electric power by electromagnetic waves
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02JCIRCUIT ARRANGEMENTS OR SYSTEMS FOR SUPPLYING OR DISTRIBUTING ELECTRIC POWER; SYSTEMS FOR STORING ELECTRIC ENERGY
    • H02J50/00Circuit arrangements or systems for wireless supply or distribution of electric power
    • H02J50/10Circuit arrangements or systems for wireless supply or distribution of electric power using inductive coupling
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02JCIRCUIT ARRANGEMENTS OR SYSTEMS FOR SUPPLYING OR DISTRIBUTING ELECTRIC POWER; SYSTEMS FOR STORING ELECTRIC ENERGY
    • H02J7/00Circuit arrangements for charging or depolarising batteries or for supplying loads from batteries
    • H02J7/02Circuit arrangements for charging or depolarising batteries or for supplying loads from batteries for charging batteries from ac mains by converters
    • H02J7/022Circuit arrangements for charging or depolarising batteries or for supplying loads from batteries for charging batteries from ac mains by converters characterised by the type of converter
    • H02J7/025Circuit arrangements for charging or depolarising batteries or for supplying loads from batteries for charging batteries from ac mains by converters characterised by the type of converter using non-contact coupling, e.g. inductive, capacitive

Abstract

Method of supplying power to electric power consuming devices carried by an animal, such as live stock, pet animals and non-domesticated animals, including (a) using information about one or more physical locations at which an animal is likely to spend a determinable amount of time on a regular basis for deploying at the one or more such location(s) a power supply source and a herewith associated wireless power transmitter, (b) providing on the animal a wireless power receiver in operative association with power consuming devices carried by the animal, and (c) enabling wireless power transfer between the transmitter and the receiver when the animal is within an operative distance from the pre-determined locations.

Description

POWER TRANSMISSION TO MOBILE DEVICES ON ANIMALS

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to the field of mobile, power- consuming devices carried by animals, and in particular devices powered using electricity from an on-board power source. More specifically, the invention is concerned with ways of recharging mobile power supply sources and/or providing short term power supply to power-consuming devices carried by an animal. BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION The present invention was conceived against the background of an increased use of electronic equipment used for animal control and/or monitoring purposes. For example, in farming applications, animal wearable wireless sensor equipment is used to track and classify animal behaviour, eg for breeding purposes. Similarly, so-called virtual fencing technology is being developed employed to control movement within or restrain movement out of a predetermined area of livestock animals. Typically, electronics and electrical power consuming devices require a power supply pack, eg batteries, for operation, given that they often use more power than current 'alternative' power harvesting methods (e.g. movement, solar, temperature, etc) can provide. By way of example, in the context of virtual fencing-off of areas where life stock is maintained, PCT patent document WO 2006/125264 discloses an animal management system for controlling and monitoring animals which includes a plurality of electrical power consuming control devices that are mountable to cattle animals and which are arranged for wireless communication with one another; the devices have an optional capability of communicating with a stationary central controller for data down and up-load. The control devices are provided with stimuli units by means of which an electric shock may be applied to the animal in response to certain events being detected by sensors that form part of the control devices, eg an animal charging towards another animal (acceleration and GPS sensors), an animal seeking to wander away from a predetermined 'virtually fenced-off zone (GPS sensor determination vs set of allowed geographical reference data), etc. Relevantly, the stimuli application unit and different sensors, communication modules, micro-processors and other electronic equipment that interact and form part of the control devices require electrical power for their operation. To this end it is necessary to provide an on board power supply, typically in the form of a battery pack.

Whilst power consumption of known implementations of such control devices has been sought to be optimised, thus allowing use of the devices over longer periods of time before re-charging of the battery pack is required, it will become immediately apparent that when a virtual fencing system comprising hundreds of individual animal control devices is employed, substantial time and effort is required to exchange the depleted battery packs with fresh ones. Each animal will need to be singled out and manual exchange of the power supply batteries effected.

The above mentioned shortcomings apply to other power consuming devices carried by animals, be such devices intended to monitor animal behaviour, like GPS sensors and transponders, as compared to reactively and remotely powered systems such as passive Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) which are powered transiently by an interrogating signal, compare road toll payment transponders. It is in the field of devices that require either a constant or intermittent power supply to operate electrical devices carried by an animal, also such having an on board power supply unit, where the invention seeks to provide a cost effective solution which allows reduction of the time and effort required to exchange depleted battery packs. It is also desired for preferred aspects of the invention to find application in other fields of animal control and monitoring where electrical power consuming devices and implements are carried by an animal, eg a pet, where minimising servicing time and/or effort required in recharging or exchanging the power supply unit carried by the animal is likely to achieve greater acceptance and/or penetration of such technologies.

It would also be desirable to provide a system which enables transient power supply to electronic circuitry of equipment carried by an animal, thereby dispensing with the need for an onboard power supply unit. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of providing power to electric power consuming devices carried by an animal, such as live stock, pet animals and non-domesticated animals, including (a) using information about one or more physical locations at which an animal is likely to spend a minimum amount of time on a regular basis for deploying at the one or more such location(s) a power supply source and a herewith associated wireless power transmitter, (b) providing on the animal a wireless power receiver in operative association with the power consuming devices carried by the animal, and (c) enabling wireless power transfer between the transmitter and the receiver when the animal is within an operative distance from the pre-determined locations.

In a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a system for providing power to electric power consuming devices carried by an animal, such as live stock, pet animals and non-domesticated animals, including (a) locating a power supply source and a herewith associated wireless power transmitter at one or more physical locations which an animal is likely to visit and dwell at on a regular basis, (b) providing on the animal a wireless power receiver in operative association with the power consuming devices carried by the animal, and (c) enabling wireless power transfer between the transmitter and the receiver when the animal is within an operative distance from the pre-determined locations.

One key aspect of the present invention is the recognition that both domesticated and feral animals have or exhibit behavioural patterns which cause them to visit at regular intervals the same location(s) in any given period of time, such as is the case with cattle congregating at feeding and watering locations, cows being congregated in a stable for feeding or milking, wild animals retreating into a den, etc.

That is, it can be predicted from behaviour analysis and/or routine patterns of such animals at what location(s) they will spend a determinable amount of time during the normal daily cycle, and such information may then be used to locate and define the rating of a power transmitter used in transmitting (ie wirelessly transferring) sufficient energy to power-consuming devices and electronic apparatus / systems carried by the animal for transiently running the electricity consuming devices and the electronic circuitry whilst at the location and/or for storing enough energy to run the electricity consuming devices and circuitry for an extended period of time when the animal is not at such location. For example, in applications such as monitoring behaviour of a feral animal, the animal may have been fitted with an implanted or collar-carried sensor array that requires small amounts of power for monitoring and recording environmental and animal-centric parameters. The required power is provided by a miniaturised power supply pack, which may then be regularly recharged wirelessly when the animal retreats into its den where a larger power supply and transmitter unit has been safely hidden. In contrast, in a farming environment, milking cows are regularly caused to attend a milking station, where they will spend a specified amount of time for milking, which time can then be used to recharge any type of power supply pack they may carry for the purpose of supplying power to monitoring or virtual fencing equipment carried by the animal.

The invention thus overcomes the significant problem of energy shortage in current state of the art applications which either stems from equipment with limited processing capability, e.g. passive RFID, or the need for frequent battery changes where energy consumption by equipment carried by an animal is high. Implementations of the invention also provide embodiments in which the size and/or rating of a power supply unit (or pack) carried by an animal to provide an 'on board' power supply for electrical equipment (such as environmental sensors, animal physiology parameter sensors, telemetry equipment, data recording devices and similar) 'installed' on the animal, can be reduced, given that regular congregation of an animal at the determinable location(s) will enable hassle-free frequent recharging of an otherwise physically larger or higher rated power supply pack.

In a third aspect of the invention, there is provided a power transfer apparatus for devices when used in controlling and/or monitoring animal behaviour, including a receiver for receiving wirelessly transmitted power, means for incorporating the receiver into a mobile, animal behaviour controlling and/or monitoring unit which is adapted to be fitted to an animal, means for operatively coupling the receiver to electricity-consuming components of the mobile unit such as to provide a power supply to such components, and a power transmitter device adapted to be located at an animal congregation point where such animal visits and dwells at for a minimum predetermined amount of time, the power transmitter adapted to be coupled to a power supply unit and wirelessly transmit power received from said power supply unit to the receiver, said receiver being enabled to receive wireless power transfer from the power transmitter when an animal wearing the mobile unit is within a predetermined distance of the transmitter.

In a fourth aspect, the invention provides an apparatus for controlling and/or monitoring animal behaviour, including at least one animal behaviour controlling and/or monitoring unit which is adapted to be fitted to an animal, the unit adapted to sample predetermined environmental or animal-centric parameters and optionally record same for time-deferred or instantaneous communication to another one such unit or to a central processing device, a power receiver for receiving wirelessly transmitted power, the receiver operatively coupled to electricity-consuming components of the unit such as to provide a power supply to such components, and a power transmitter device adapted to be located at an animal congregation point where such animal visits and dwells at for a minimum predetermined amount of time, the power transmitter coupled to a power supply unit and arranged for wirelessly transmitting power received from said power supply unit to the receiver, said receiver being enabled to receive wireless power transfer from the power transmitter when an animal wearing the mobile unit is within a predetermined distance of the transmitter.

Practical implementations of all four aspects of the invention may further include a device or system for detecting proximity between the power receiver and power transmitter components of the system, the overall system being conceived to either automatically commence with power transfer when a proximity value is within a predetermined range of values, or to cause a prompted commencement of power transfer utilising a central controller unit associated with the power transmission side of the system. The proximity detection system may be embodied in different ways, and depending on the nature of animal to be controlled and/or monitored, the physical surrounds and constraints of the location at which the wireless power transmitter is located and other factors, may include a wireless proximity sensing system, a magnetic induction proximity sensing system, an electromagnetic radiation proximity sensing system, mechanical proximity actuators, optical proximity sensing arrangements, etc.

In so far as the wireless power transmission features and components of the invention are concerned, preferred embodiments will advantageously use high-frequency, focused, inductive power transfer systems which typically operate with directional magnetic fields at a frequency of 100KHz which have power transmission densities of sufficient (determinable) value to enable efficient and sufficient power uptake by the receiver component within a predefined radius of the radiation component (eg antenna) of the wireless power transmitter coupled to its associated localised power supply (eg mains or generator A.C. or D. C power supply). Inductively coupled power transfer technology relies on electromagnetic inductance where the transmission is effected contact less through any non-metallic medium. By way of non-limiting example, the New Zealand company PowerByProxi

Limited provides wireless power transmission systems that can be employed with the present invention. Their product Proxi-Point provides up to 2m wireless power transfer that would be exceeding requirements for implementing the concepts underlying the invention; see www.powerbyproxi.com/solutions-point.html and also US patent document US2007/0109708 A1 .

To be clear, the present invention is not aimed at nor should it be understood as utilising (passive) RFID type technologies. Whilst RFID utilises magnetic fields for 'triggering' a response within the passive tag component of the system, ie utilises a power carrying signal, such systems do not transmit energy at levels required to operate active electronics nor electricity-consuming devices contemplated by the present invention; the magnetic field deployment pattern and power densities employed in RFID technologies are not sufficient to run electronics and power consuming devices required in the implementation of eg virtual fencing applications. Power levels achievable immediately proximate to the sender antenna (or transmitter) of an RFID system are understood to be in the order of 10 micro Watts maximum, and much lower at larger distances (inverse square distance rule). The power levels envisioned in the context of the present invention are at least three orders of magnitude higher for continuous operation or about five orders of magnitude for charging animal mounted power supply packs. In further development of the above identified fourth aspect of the invention, it is envisioned to incorporate the wireless power transmission functionality into the animal management system described in above referenced patent document WO 2006/125264 A1 , the whole contents of which is incorporated herein by way of short hand cross-reference.

Accordingly, the at least one animal behaviour controlling and/or monitoring unit which is adapted to be fitted to an animal will advantageously include a position detection system arranged for monitoring the spatial location and/or movement of an animal in a two- or three-dimensional detection space, a stimulus application device arranged for selective delivery of a sensory stimulus to the animal of such nature to influence a behaviour of the animal, a power management system incorporating means for storing and supplying electrical power to circuitry and equipment in need of a power supply carried on the unit, at least the power storage means being operatively associated with the wireless power receiver, and a first component of the proximity detection system which cooperates with a counterpart second component of the proximity detection system co-located at or near the wireless power transmitter. The power storing means (eg a power supply pack) will advantageously be devised for storage of energy sufficient to operate all energy consuming circuitry and equipment carried on the unit over a predetermined time frame, eg 72 hrs.

The power management system may further include switching capability to selectively terminate or enable power supply to selected ones of said circuitry and equipment, optionally arranged to perform such selection as a function of power storage levels. For example, the power distribution infrastructure or network of the unit can be devised such that if power storage levels fall below a predetermined level, energy supply to the stimulus application unit is interrupted automatically, preventing further draining of power reserves, thereby to ensure sufficient power is available to operate the first proximity detection component for such predetermined time as would be normal for the animal to congregate at the power transmitter location and enable re-charging of depleted power storage means. On the fixed-location side of the wireless power transmission system, the power supply and/or the transmitter can be arranged such that power transmission to the wireless power receiver on the animal-carried unit can only be initiated in response either to a low power storage signal being emitted from the unit, or an identification (Id) signal emitted by the unit is determined as an authorised recipient unit (ie animal) of power transfer.

Other aspects, preferred and optional features of the invention will become apparent from the following description of an embodiment of the invention which is provided with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Figure 1 is a diagrammatic illustration of a virtually fenced-off zone for live stock animals and in which a wireless power transmission system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention is implemented; Figure 2 is another diagrammatic illustration of a live stock animal (eg a cattle animal) in close proximity to a watering through as present in the virtually fenced-off zone of Fig. 1 ;

Figure 3 is a schematic illustration in block-diagram form of an animal behaviour monitoring and controlling mobile unit which is carried by a live stock animal as illustrated in Fig. 2 and which incorporates a first, mobile component of the wireless power transmission system in accordance with the preferred embodiment;

Fig. 4 is a schematic, highly simplified illustration of the water through of figures 1 and 2 and which incorporates a second, stationary component of the wireless power transmission system in accordance with the preferred embodiment;

Fig.5 is a block diagram of electric-power consuming equipment that forms part of the animal behaviour monitoring and controlling mobile unit illustrated in Fig. 3; and Fig. 6 is a flow block diagram illustrating the steps effected in order to enable wireless power transmission between the mobile and stationery components of the wireless power transmission system as implemented in the virtually fenced-off environment of Fig. 1. DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The relevant aspects of the invention will be described herein by way of an implementation of a wireless power transmission system within a virtual fencing system used in controlling live stock animals, such as cattle herds. The skilled addressee will immediately appreciate that the inventive concept as well as aspects of its implementation described below are readily transferable to other animal monitoring / controlling environments, be it in the context of feral animals like foxes, or pet animals. Figure 1 identifies at 10 a virtually fenced-off zone. The technology associated with such animal movement control system is not the subject of this invention; further details can be obtained from above referenced WO 2006/125264 A1 , US patent 5,787,841 and patent document US 2005/0000469 A1 which provide different implementations of virtual fencing technology. Within area 10 one can identify five cattle animals, such as cows 15a to e, and one bull 16, of which animals 15a to c have congregated at a watering station 20 or through located within zone 10; arrows associated with animals 15d and e intend to convey that these animals are also in the process of changing the previously held position at pasture, so as to wander to the watering station 20. Animal behaviour analysis demonstrates that all animals have an instinctive nature to visit available watering places (such as creek 22 and watering station 20) on regular intervals and for certain periods of time. Such behaviour can also be trained, if it is desired that animals congregate at a more specific location during a day, eg for feeding purposes, or at a specific watering spot (such as at 20), etc. Relevantly, this observation has been used advantageously in the present invention in the implementation of a system which enables to provide either one or both a power transmission and recharging capability for all types of electric-power consuming devices, circuitry and similar apparatus which may be fitted to an animal, such as is the case in virtual fencing systems, as will be referred to below.

As exemplified on all animals 15a to e and 16, but referenced only on animals 15a and e, and also illustrated in Fig. 2, each animal is fitted with a collar that carries a number of individual devices and equipment components of an animal control and/or monitoring system 25 of a type not dissimilar to the ones described in the above referenced prior art documents, and as will be explained below with reference to figures 3 and 5 in general terms. Relevantly also, the collar 28 (fig. 2) serves to support on the animal at a known (ie animal centric) location a first, mobile constituent component 30 which is intended to cooperate with a second, stationary constituent component 32 of a wireless power transmission system / apparatus identified in figure 3 at 36. The stationary component 32 is located at the known animal congregation location, here chosen to be the watering station 20, but which location could equally be somewhere different within the virtually fenced-off area or outside thereof. It is also envisioned to have a multiplicity of stationary power transmission components 32, 32' located at different locations known to be regular congregation points for the animal species sought to be monitored / controlled, eg such as at a feeding station 23, see Fig. 1 . Figures 2 and 3 illustrate schematically and in block diagrammatic manners both the mobile (30) and the stationary (32) components of the wireless power transmission system 36, which in the described embodiment is a high- frequency inductive power distribution and transmission system, which typically operates with magnetic fields at a frequency of about 100 kHz; further details see PowebyProxi and below.

The stationary component 32 itself is switched (31 ) and connected to an underground mains power supply line 34, or could be supplied through other electricity generation device such as a petrol-driven generator, wind turbine, solar power station etc. Where mains power supply is unavailable, eg as is the case in remote rural stations, it will be appreciated that the use of solar, wind and other regenerative energy power generators allow for greater versatility in placement of the stationary power transmission component 32 at the animal congregation location, and provides complete independence from power supply line infrastructure in the first place. The magnetic fields which the stationary component 32 generates for wireless power transmission through its dedicated transmission component 33 need to be directed to achieve the required power densities necessary for providing induced power levels at the mobile (receiver) component 30 of the system 36 sufficient to power directly or indirectly (through a power storage facility like batteries) the electric-power consuming devices and circuits of the animal control and/or monitoring system 25, as explained in greater detail below.

Figure 5 illustrates a block diagram of some but not necessarily all electric- power consuming equipment / devices (EPCD) that form part of the animal behaviour monitoring and controlling mobile unit 25 illustrated in Figures 2 and 3. In particular, circuitry associated with a central controller and/or processors have been omitted. These devices include a global positioning system GPS 38 for delivering a location signal within a defined space, an inertial sensor unit 40 for registering movement / acceleration and generating a signal representative of such, a radio (frequency) transmitter / transponder 42 for telemetry purposes (eg receive command signals and transmit sensor signals), an audio signal generator 46 for generating an acoustic stimuli to the animal in response to certain parameters re location / movement pattern of the animal being outside desired values, and an electric shock application unit 44 intended to provide appropriate electrical shocks to the animal in order to achieve desired behaviour changing of the animal in specific Situations. For example an audio cue in combination with a shock can be applied to teach the animal not to move in certain directions, compare above mentioned virtual fencing technology prior art documents. All these electric-power consuming devices (EPCDs) are supplied with electric power through a common switch bus 48, and are also connected to an on-board micro-processor and memory, as is known in the art. Relevantly, the power consumption of these devices 38 to 46, and in particular 44, is significant such that it is common to also provide the system 25 with an on-board power supply in form of a re-chargeable battery pack 50 connected to a power regulator 52 switched to the power supply bus 48, as can be gleaned from figure 3.

In accordance with the invention, in order to obviate the need for time- consuming and frequent exchanging of batteries of pack 50, the mobile component 30 of the wireless power transmission system 36 is used to recharge the batteries during specific times of day when the animal is, as expected, at the congregation location where the stationary transmitter component 32 is located.

General detection of an animal at the congregation location can be effected in known manner using optical sensors 54 located at the watering station 20. Relevantly, however, in order to ensure efficient and sufficient power transfer between the stationary and the mobile components 30, 32 of power transmission system 36, it is necessary to achieve placement of the mobile receiver unit 30 carried by the animal within a defined radius or maximum distance dmax with respect to the sender element 33 of stationary power transmission component 32. This can be aided by, for example, stationary direction rails or gates which force the animal to enter a narrow passageway leading to confined watering station boxes for the animal to drink.

Referring back to the wireless power transmission system 36, the New Zealand company PowerByProxi offers high-frequency inductive (wireless) power transmission systems 36 with 450W power transmission over a distance of up to 4.5 cm, the usable transmission range being up to 60cm at lower but sufficient power and power density levels for use with the invention.

For detailing an implementation of the system, some key parameters will be explained, but the skilled person would be able to define the requirements of the system for a specific application field, depending ultimately on the power consumption amounts and rates of EPCDs 'installed' on the animal to be monitored / controlled.

For applications like virtual fencing of cattle, a frequent wake-up of the central microprocessor of system 25 is required to evaluate the current state and position. This often requires additionally querying inertial sensor 40 and GPS 38 (or similar localization devices). Current research devices deployed on animals for this purpose have an average power consumption of 20OmW but it can be estimated that it is possible to reduce this to about 2OmW by purpose-designed systems. To supply a central power node, for the electric-power consuming devices of system 25 carried by an animal, with enough power for continuous operation, 20mW*24h = 48OmWh need to be transferred per day to the batteries 50. A practical sender-receiver power transmission system 36 will require the animal (ie the receiver 30 it carries) to come within this proximity of the sender 33, for today's systems about 60cm. This means in order to utilize this technology, it needs to be guaranteed that the animal spends enough time within this proximity. Behavioural analysis shows that cattle will spend around 10min per day at a drinking station. In order to recharge the batteries 50 in a single visit, the system needs to be able to transfer 2.88W while the animal is in proximity of the sender. Current systems provide up to 80% efficiency, whereby the area overlap of sender 33 and receiver 30 additionally contribute linearly to the overall efficiency. A perfect overlap cannot be guaranteed, so 20% efficiency are assumed which results in the requirement for a 14.4W system. Given the current availability of 450W systems with receivers 30 having a reception size of 30cm in diameter, much smaller systems for the lower power consumption can be designed to be carried by animals in the collar around the neck.

In order to relax the constraints on accuracy of alignment and proximity between transmitter 33 and receiver 30 to achieve adequate power transfer rates, the stationery component 32 can be designed to incorporate a plurality of transmitter stations 33a to 33d placed within an optimised overlapping transmission array, as exemplarily and schematically shown in figure 4. A drinking trough, for example, at the drinking station 20, can thus be fitted with power senders 33a to 33d such that a receiver 30 carried by an animal has a good overlap with one or more of the senders and fulfils the short transmission distance requirement dmax. Another option is to put the senders (transmission units 33a to d) on a bar above the trough and have the receivers 30 on the collars carried by the animals 15 pointing or orientated in an upward direction on the top of the animal's necks.

The wireless power transmission system 36 will advantageously also optionally include additional electronic components at or utilise existing power monitoring and switching capabilities of the animal control and/or monitoring system 25 to enhance its functionality. So for example, the controller and power distribution bus 48 of the EPCD of system 25 may have independent power provisioning where the power supply to the stimulus devices 44, 46 and the GPS 38 and the inertial unit 40 may be switched off independently and selectively, in response to predetermined battery charge levels being registered by the central controller of system 25, so for example to prevent the batteries of pack 50 running completely empty and thus preventing any type of RF-identification of the animal, even when at the re-charge location at station 32; ie this enables the low power wireless sensor networking node to keep operating for an extended period of time. Equally, the wireless sensor networking part of system 25 can then communicate to nodes on other animals and to fixed nodes that it is running out of power. The other animal nodes can relay that information immediately if within reach to a fixed node with data upload capability or the animal can carry the information with it to pass it on as soon as within reach of a fixed node. Figure 6 provides a flow diagram of one mode of operation of the wireless power transmission system 36 as well as additional functionality capabilities of the system described above; such functionality may be implemented by way of software executed on the microcontroller carried by the animal's monitoring system 25 or at the stationary unit 32 of the transmission system 36 proper. Initially an optical detector (eg 54) senses whether the head of an animal is close enough to warrant activation of the stationary power transmitting component 32 of the system 36. Whilst a magnetic induction power transmission system only draws substantial mains power in presence of the counterpart receiver, stand-by power consumption is undesired in many instances, eg where it is the case that animals will only congregate at the power-recharge station at longer intervals, like 5 days. Equally, however, power transmission itself may be switched from stand-by into active mode using the optical sensor. In practice other detectors such as magnetic or passive infrared, etc can be used.

An additional functionality is provided in that before activating the power transmission, note switch 31 in figs. 3 and 4, for example, a dedicated Id-device located at the transmitter's location is used to send aping-signal to the animal in order to identify the animal. If no response is received from the animal, then this means either the animal is unauthorized to receive power or the animal device is entirely discharged. In order to ascertain whether the animal device is discharged, a small amount of energy is sent, which is sufficient to energise a response signal from the animal's ID node and allow identification. If after this small amount of energy is transmitted and there is no response then this likely indicates that the animal is unauthorized or the device on the animal is defective. In either case no further energy is transmitted. There may be further actions attached to such determination, eg an alarm using a wireless data upload, alternatively a surveillance camera may be triggered. In some cases the animal may be equipped with a RFID tag which can be used for additional identification. If the animal does send a correct response signal back to the controller device at the stationary component of the system 36, then this device can interrogate the animal-centric controller and ascertain whether a recharging operation has already been effected, eg within a previous, predetermined period, as this may be useful to reduce costs of unnecessary energy consumption (and possibly shorten battery life due to hysteresis memory effects); this inquiry also may minimise safety or health risk which may yet be proven to be caused by excessive exposure to wireless power transmission exposure of the animal.

Satisfactory response and identification as outlined above is necessary to activate power transmission from the device to the animal for a predetermined period. Advantageously, the central control / processing unit carried on the animal monitors the charging status of the batteries and is wired or otherwise enabled to send a signal when sufficient energy has been transmitted. The stationary transmission component of the system is then either switched off or its power supply from mains interrupted. Such shut-down is also effected when an animal with fully charged batteries is detected at the transmission location.

Advantageously, during the time the animal is at the congregation location or in radio transmission proximity, compiled sensor data stored at a memory of the monitoring / controlling system 26 can be downloaded from the animal, e.g. animal activities, and stored at a suitable memory device co-located with the stationary power transmission component 32 or in its radio transmission vicinity. A secondary data connection and upload facility (e.g. Next-G or satellite modem) can also be provided for uploading the data to a remote server.

It will be appreciated by the skilled addressee that the above detailed description is that of but one embodiment of the invention, and variations of the specific devices and equipment identified above are possible within the confines of the appended claims.

Claims

CLAIMS:
1. Method of supplying power to electric power consuming devices carried by an animal, such as live stock, pet animals and non-domesticated animals, including (a) using information about one or more physical locations at which an animal is likely to spend a determinable amount of time on a regular basis for deploying at the one or more such location(s) a power supply source and a herewith associated wireless power transmitter, (b) providing on the animal a wireless power receiver in operative association with power consuming devices carried by the animal, and (c) enabling wireless power transfer between the transmitter and the receiver when the animal is within an operative distance from the pre-determined locations.
2. Power supply system for delivering power to electric power consuming devices carried by an animal, such as live stock, pet animals and non- domesticated animals, including (a) locating a power supply source and a herewith associated wireless power transmitter at one or more physical locations which an animal is by its nature, behaviour or training likely to visit on a regular basis and dwell at for a determinable amount time, (b) providing on the animal a wireless power receiver in operative association with one or more power consuming devices carried by the animal, and (c) enabling wireless power transfer between the transmitter and the receiver when the animal is within an operative distance from the pre-determined locations.
3. Power supply method or system according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the power consuming devices include one or more of environmental sensors, animal physiology parameter sensors, telemetry equipment, data recording devices, data telecommunication equipment, stimuli application devices, localisation equipment.
4. Power supply method or system according to claim 1 , 2 or 3, wherein the one or more locations include instinctive or taught congregation points specific to an animal species, including watering locations, feeding locations, herding or mustering locations, resting locations, sleeping locations.
5. Power supply method or system according to any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein a power storage unit (or pack) is carried by the animal, the power storage unit being devised for supplying electrical power to the power consuming devices carried by the animal and be recharged through the wireless power receiver, and wherein the physical size and/or power delivery rating of the power storage unit is chosen as a function of the regularity with which the animal frequents the predetermined location(s).
6. Power transfer apparatus for devices used in controlling and/or monitoring animal behaviour, including a receiver for receiving wirelessly transmitted power, means for incorporating the receiver into a mobile, animal behaviour controlling and/or monitoring unit which is adapted to be fitted to an animal, the unit having one or more electric power consuming devices and circuitry, means coupling the receiver to said electric power consuming devices such as to selectively provide a power supply to such devices and circuitry, and a power transmitter adapted to be located at an animal congregation point where such animal visits regularly and dwells at for a specific amount of time, the power transmitter adapted to be coupled to an earth-bound power supply unit and wirelessly transmit power received from said power supply unit to the receiver, said receiver being enabled to receive wireless power transfer from the power transmitter when an animal wearing the mobile unit is within a predetermined distance of the transmitter.
7. System for controlling and/or monitoring animal behaviour, including at least one animal behaviour controlling and/or monitoring mobile unit which is adapted to be fitted to an animal, the unit including one or more devices for sampling predetermined environmental or animal-centric parameters, generating a signal representative of one or more of the sampled parameters and optionally recording same for time-deferred or instantaneous communication to another one such mobile unit or to a central data processing device, an optional stimulus application device associated with the mobile unit and adapted to be fitted to the animal, the stimulus device arranged for providing a stimulus to the animal in response to a trigger signal as a function of one or more of the sampled signals, a power receiver for receiving wirelessly transmitted power, the receiver operatively coupled to electric power consuming components of the mobile unit and stimulus application device such as to provide a power supply to such components, and a power transmitter device adapted to be located at an animal congregation point where such animal visits regularly and dwells at for a specific amount of time, the power transmitter coupled to a ground-based power supply unit and arranged for wirelessly transmitting power from said power supply unit to the receiver, said receiver being enabled to receive wireless power transfer from the power transmitter when an animal wearing the mobile unit is within a predetermined distance of the transmitter.
8. The apparatus or system of claim 6 or 7, further including a power storage unit located at the mobile unit, the power storage unit being devised for supplying electrical power to the power consuming devices carried by the animal and be recharged through the wireless power receiver.
9. The apparatus or system as defined in any preceding apparatus or system claim, further including a system for detecting proximity between the power receiver and power transmitter components of the system, the overall system being conceived to either automatically initiate power transfer when a detected proximity value is within a predetermined range of values, or to cause a prompted commencement of power transfer utilising a central controller unit associated with the power transmission side of the system.
10. The apparatus or system as defined in claim 9, wherein the proximity detection system includes one or more of a wireless proximity sensing system, a magnetic induction proximity sensing system, an electromagnetic radiation proximity sensing system, mechanical proximity actuators, optical proximity sensing arrangements.
1 1 . The apparatus or system as defined in claim 10, further including an arrangement devised for causing the animal to move into and substantially remain within a position in which a close spatial relationship within a predetermined radius is maintained between the otherwise stationary wireless power transmitter and the otherwise mobile wireless power receiver carried at the animal.
12. The apparatus or system as defined in any one of claims 6 to 1 1 , further including an animal position detection system arranged for monitoring the spatial location and/or movement of an animal in a two- or three-dimensional detection space, a stimulus application device arranged for selective delivery of a sensory stimulus to the animal of such nature as to influence a behaviour of the animal, a power management system incorporating means for storing and supplying electrical power to circuitry and equipment in need of a power supply carried on the mobile unit, at least the power storage means being operatively associated with the wireless power receiver, and a first component of the proximity detection system which cooperates with a counterpart second component of the proximity detection system co-located at or near the wireless power transmitter.
13. The apparatus or system of claim 12, wherein the power storage means (eg a battery pack) is devised for storage of energy sufficient to operate all energy consuming circuitry and equipment carried on the mobile unit over a predetermined time frame, preferably 72 hrs.
14. The apparatus or system of claim 12 or 13, wherein the power management system includes switching capability to selectively terminate or enable power supply to selected ones of said circuitry and equipment, optionally arranged to perform such selection as a function of power storage levels within the power storage means.
15. The apparatus or system of claim 14, wherein a power distribution network of the mobile unit is devised such that when power storage levels fall below a predetermined level, energy supply to the stimulus application device is interrupted automatically, preventing further draining of power reserves, thereby to ensure sufficient power is available to operate the first proximity detection component for such predetermined time as would be expected for the animal to congregate at the power transmitter location and enable re-charging of depleted power storage means.
16. The apparatus or system of claim 13, 14 or 15, wherein the ground-based power supply and/or the transmitter are arranged such that power transmission to the wireless power receiver on the animal-carried unit can only be initiated in response either to a low power storage signal being emitted from the mobile unit, or an identification signal emitted by the mobile unit is determined as an authorised recipient mobile unit for power transfer.
17. The apparatus, system or method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the wireless power transmitter and receiver form part of a high- frequency, focused, inductive power transfer systems which employs a directional electromagnetic field at a frequency of 100KHz or more and which generates power transmission densities of predetermined value to enable a predetermined power uptake by the receiver component within a predefined radius of the radiation component (eg antenna) of the wireless power transmitter.
18. The apparatus, system or method of claim 17, wherein the ground based power supply associated with and providing power to the wireless power transmitter is a mains, battery or generator A.C. or D. C power supply.
19. The apparatus, system or method of claim 17 or 18, wherein the wireless power transmitter is an inductively coupled power transfer device devised to transfer between 10 and 20 Watt, preferably about 14.4 Watt.
20. The apparatus, system or method of claim 17, 18 or 19, wherein the predefined radius is up to 100 cm, preferably 60 cm.
21 . The apparatus, system or method of any one of claims 17 to 20, wherein the wireless power transmitter is comprised of a plurality of discrete power sender units arranged in close spatial relation ship within a predetermined zone in such manner that individual power transmission zones of the sender units overlap in providing power transmission to the animal-carried wireless power receiver when within said predetermined radius.
PCT/AU2010/000654 2009-06-02 2010-05-28 Power transmission to mobile devices on animals WO2010138994A1 (en)

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