As with large-scale production, it is best to use a tractor that is currently rolling off the factory assembly lines. That’s exactly what John Deere has done and adapted the traditional 8R Series tractor for autonomous operation.
John Deere introduced Mr.at the CES 2022 of the electronics industry and the latest technologies in Las Vegas tractor operating completely autonomously. It was not a surprise, but the fact that the tractor was on the straight ahead of series production is.
The technology of an autonomous tractor that operates like a robot independently without human intervention is not new, and we have written about such solutions many times. Several producers, even a dozen, can assemble such a tractor. However, John Deere has announced that its autonomous tractor is fully ready for mass production and will go live this year.
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Traditional 8R as a robot
As with large-scale production, it is best to use a tractor that is currently rolling off the factory assembly lines. That’s exactly what John Deere has done and adapted the traditional 8R Series tractor for autonomous operation. It was not difficult for the engineers of the American brand. It has long been known that the John Deere AutoTrac automatic turn allows the tractor to be automatically steered (without touching the steering wheel) even on the headland. It was enough to refine the safety of this system and the result was an autonomous tractor that performs work with an accuracy of at least 2.5 cm. Of course, this is possible thanks to the satellite navigation signal.
The John Deere 8R Autonomous Tractor has 6 pairs of 3D stereo cameras that can detect obstacles within a 360 degree range and calculate the distance to them. The images from the cameras go to the so-called deep neural network. The name is not accidental as it refers to the actual nervous system of the body. In this case, however, it is a computer tool capable of solving given tasks.
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In an autonomous tractor, it classifies each pixel of the camera images in about 100 milliseconds and can tell in a flash if the tractor can continue to work. In the event of an obstacle, the tractor stops. In addition, the autonomous John Deere 8R continuously determines its position relative to the virtual field boundary, i.e. checks whether it is working in the correct area. It should be added that artificial intelligence (AI) also works on the basis of a deep neural network.
For use in the field, not on the road
John Deere says its autonomous tractor is designed for field work and cannot be driven on the road by itself. It must be transported to the field, which is not difficult, since it is still a traditional tractor with a cabin, operator’s seat and steering wheel. So you can drive it to the field, where it will already work independently.
Before an autonomous tractor can start a given task, it must be configured for that task. All you need is access to the John Deere Operations Center Mobile system, where the user can also start the tractor with the swipe of a finger on their mobile phone screen. While the robot tractor is working, the farmer can do other work. However, he still has the ability to monitor the status of an autonomous tractor on his mobile device.
John Deere Operations Center Mobile also provides access to photos, videos and real-time data and allows you to adjust the appropriate working speed from the aggregate machine to an autonomous tractor and change its hydraulically operated operating parameters. “In case of anomalies or problems, the user will receive a notification on his mobile device and can make changes to optimize the work” – reads the press release.
- The article was published in “Agricultural Technical Review”. SUBSCRIBE