By Top Crop Manager
During a press conference at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2022 in Las Vegas on Jan. 4, John Deere revealed their new, fully autonomous tractor is ready for large-scale production. The machine combines Deere’s 8R tractor, TruSet-enabled chisel plow, GPS guidance system and other new, advanced technologies. The autonomous tractor will be available to farmers later this year.
The autonomous tractor serves a specific purpose: feeding the world. Farmers must feed the growing population with less available land and skilled labour and work through the variables inherent in farming, such as changing weather conditions and climate, variations in soil quality, and an array of weeds and pests. All of these factors impact a farmer’s ability to farm during the most critical times of the year.
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 whether an obstacle is detected. The tractor is also continuously checking its position relative to a geofence, ensuring it is operating where it is supposed to, and is within an inch or less of accuracy.
To use the autonomous tractor, farmers only need to transport the machine to a field and configure it for autonomous operation. Using John Deere Operations Center Mobile, they can swipe from left to right to start the machine. While the machine is working, the farmer can leave the field to focus on other tasks while monitoring the machine’s status from their mobile device.
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.