Agricultural equipment maker John Deere announces that the self-driving tractor which they have been working on for years is now ready for production. It is an autonomous farming kit that includes a package of hardware and software that combines the company’s GPS-powered auto-steer features and machine learning. Autonomous technology in agriculture is an unexpected breakthrough in making progress in the farming world.
According to the announcement by John Deere, the 8R tractor has been in select customers’ hands for a few rides by now. Since 2019, prototypes have been tested, again and again, knowing the autonomous world this is common for equipment to be tested on multiple locations various times. However, now they announce that the company will be open for sales by 2022 fall. It would be a breakthrough in the farming world, as this vehicle does multiple jobs while the farmer can rest or be on standby in a nearby location.
Autonomous technology made consistent progress in the agriculture segment than in the automobile industry or in the technology industry. It could be because of the simplicity involved in the tasks of farming. Not that the tractor that is currently developed can do all the tasks. It eases the difficulty of a farmer who has to do both plowing and handling the tech at the same time. Instead, with this self-driving tractor, they can do the other tasks while the tractor keeps driving on its own without the need for human intervention. John Deere has been able to develop many such technologies in the farming industry over years. Where they offer auto-steer systems which use GPS which can guide tractors and autosteer the vehicle.
Development of the machine
Deanna Kovar, vice president of production and precision ag production systems at John Deere announced by saying, “This is not a demo. It’s not a concept machine. It’s something we’ve had in the field with farmers for years and will be taking to production in fall,”
Further, Kovar added, “We’re not going from no-tech all the way up to an autonomous machine. John Deere’s AutoTrac solution has taken the job of steering in the field out of the operators’ hands for almost 20 years now.”
The autonomy kit by John Deere includes six pairs of stereo cameras that capture a 360-degree view around the tractor. his input is then analyzed by machine vision algorithms, which spot unexpected obstacles. Kovar says, “All [farmers] need to do is transport [their tractor] to the field, get it set, get out the cab, and use their mobile phone to ‘swipe to farm. And every eight hours, they return to give it fuel and move it from field to field.”
If there is an obstacle or an issue with the tractor that is detected, the system is such that a third-party contractor will first get the notification. After checking if the alarm is false or major, the farmer is notified then. This process ensures that the farmer can continue with their tasks as planned unless there is a major issue with the self-driving truck.