BOONE, Ia. — This year at the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI) and CNH Global revealed to the world their new concept autonomous tractors. Specifically the tractors unveiled were a concept cabless Case IH Magnum and a concept New Holland T8, based on the current production tractor. “We really revealed it to our customers to not only show our innovation, but we also wanted to get their feedback,” says Leo Bose, Advanced Farming Systems Marketing Manager.
“The features that we have allows us to supervise that vehicle in the field that we may be having additional vehicles in that field, so creating more efficiency. So today we have that tractor that can be basically placed on a pre-programmed route and a pre-programmed path,” says Bose. “So for example if I am harvesting wheat in the field, and I want to plant soybeans in a double crop situation, I can now supervise that tractor in the field were I am at or maybe it’s a tillage tractor or additional tractors. It could be one person supervising multiple units, 2 to 3, 4 or 5 units.”
Farmers would be able to program these vehicles for their assigned work, and then supervise from a desktop computer or tablet.
Both units have numerous features to insure the tractor’s safety. “We use lidar technology, radar technology, and camera technology to look at not only stationary objects, but movable objects in the field,” says Bose. “If we have an animal that runs across we detect that and the unit actually stops. It sends an alert to that supervisor on his tablet. It then allows them to look at the cameras on the vehicle. There’s one in the front of the vehicle, two in the rear so he can see what obstacle it is. It allows you to hit resume. So if it was an animal that ran in front, and there’s nothing in that area, they can hit resume and it continues on its path.” There are three options to continue if it is a stationary obstacle. The unit can manually drive around the obstacle, it can wait for you to go and move the obstacle, or you can instruct it to drive through the obstacle.
These autonomous tractors can work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. “It allows us to look at a weather system that is coming in. It allows us to look at radar technology when we have rain that is actually starting to rain on a given sight we can actually physically stop that vehicle and then look at the humidity and moisture levels over a period of time and then resume it’s operation. It allows the flexibility of that producer. Maybe a producer that has multiple fields, and length of time, and length of distance to make those decisions can use that weather data to allow the unit to make its own decisions that way.”
There is no selected time frame for the release of the autonomous tractor. CNH Global would like producers feedback. “I would encourage the listeners to go to caseih.com. They can watch the video of the autonomous concept vehicle working in the field, and at the end of that video there is a survey,” says Bose. “We want to hear from the producers and customers, and really get their input as we look at these future technologies to be placed into our products in the future.”
This technology is revolutionizing the agricultural industry, and Bose says the autonomous tractor will help future farmers cut down on costs. “I’ve been in this arena in the agriculture space over 25 years and I’ve just seen leaps and bounds in the precision side of the technology. I don’t know what the next 25 years is going to bring, but it is ultimately going to drive the return on investment which drives the lower cost of production for producers. Those are the things that we hear from producers each and every day. The fertilizer chemicals and labor are one of those areas that are a big expense for them. [We want to] maximize and minimize those expenses, and these technologies allow us to do that.”