John Deere unveiled its first fully autonomous tractor at a press conference held last week in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES 2022).
Little technical detail has emerged but the firm has said such technology can be retrofitted to particular models. However, the tractor demonstrated was an 8R 410.
Playing a key role are six pairs of integrated stereo cameras, which enable 360° obstacle detection and distance calculation.
Images captured by these cameras are passed through a deep neural network that classifies each pixel in approximately 100 milliseconds and determines if the machine continues to move or stops, depending on if an obstacle is detected. The mobile device user will then be alerted if the tractor cannot overcome the obstacle automatically.
The autonomous tractor continuously checks its position relative to a geo-fence, ensuring it is operating where it is supposed to, and is accurate to within less than 1in.
Farmers will still need to transport the tractor to the field and configure it for autonomous operation. Using the John Deere Operations Centre Mobile App, autonomous operation can then be started by swiping from left to right.
The app provides access to live machine data such as fuel level consumption, temperatures and job completion status. As well as this, users can watch the machine in real time and make adjustments to variables such as forward speed and working depth.
However, it’ll be quite some time before we see such technology arrive on Irish shores, John Deere has said that it will be available to farmers in the North American region later this year.
John Deere was also awarded two CES 2022 Innovation Awards for its See & Spray technology. The title of the awards were Best of Innovation Honouree in the robotics category and an Honouree in the vehicle intelligence and transport category.
The John Deere See & Spray is a technologically advanced robot that has the ability to detect plants and weeds and therefore targets herbicide application.