CES 2022 is underway in Las Vegas this week where the latest in technology and innovation is on display. John Deere took the opportunity to unveil their latest technology- an autonomous tractor.
“This isn’t a concept machine. This isn’t a demo. This is a working machine that will be available later this year to farmers, and it will transform their lives,” says John Deere’s Vice President of Production & Precision Ag Production Systems, Deanna Kovar.
The driverless machine combines Deere’s 8R tractor with a TruSet™-enabled chisel plow, StarFire™ GPS guidance system, and other new advanced technologies.
Kovar says the autonomous tractor will improve quality of life for farmers.
“Working from inside a cab up to 18 hours a day is physically and mentally exhausting. There are a lot of weeks when farmers are working from well before sunrise to long after sunset. Now, with this autonomous tractor, we’re giving back valuable time to farmers so they can spend it getting other jobs done on time or with their loved ones.”
So, how does it work? Julian Sanchez, Director of Emerging Technology for Deere, says it will utilize the John Deere Operations Center Mobile app.
“The farmer only needs to transport the tractor to the field and configure it for autonomous operation. Pull out their phone, swipe from left to right, and the machine starts. At that point, with a quick beep, the machine signals all clear, as long as it’s all clear, and starts working. And at that point, the farmer is now free to leave it.”
John Deere Operations Center Mobile provides access to live video, images, data and metrics, and allows a farmer to adjust speed, depth and more. In the event of any job quality anomalies or machine health issues, farmers will be notified remotely and can make adjustments to optimize the performance of the machine.
The autonomous tractor has six pairs of stereo cameras, which enables 360-degree obstacle detection and the calculation of distance. Images captured by the 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 autonomous tractor is also continuously checking its position relative to a geofence, ensuring it is operating where it is supposed to, and is within less than an inch of accuracy.
Deere says the autonomous tractor serves a specific purpose: feeding the world. The global population is expected to grow from about 8 billion to nearly 10 billion people by 2050, increasing the global food demand by 50%. Furthermore, farmers must feed this growing population with less available land and skilled labor, and work through the variables inherent in farming like changing weather conditions and climate, variations in soil quality and the presence of weeds and pests. All of these factors impact a farmer’s ability to farm during the most critical times of the year.
Watch a video of the autonomous tractor in action above.
Source: John Deere Press Release & John Deere Press Conference YouTube Replay