The SIMA awards 2017, at the Paris International Agribusiness Show, rewarded the autonomous tractor concepts from CNH Industrial brands, Case IH and New Holland Agriculture, with two silver innovation medals. Both the Autonomous Cabless Case IH Magnum CVX and the highly versatile Autonomous New Holland T8 NHDrive™ were on display at the show for all to see.
Although nobody thought much of Autosteer technology when first came out several years ago, it shortly proceeded to become the fastest technology adoption in the history of agriculture. John Deere AutoTrac™ went into production in 2002 and became a massive hit amongst farmers. Customers were buying John Deere tractors simply because they wanted AutoTrac™! Since then, competitors have realized the potential of autonomous technology and every year has brought its share of innovation.
Precision farming, also known as measured agriculture, is the perfect example of the disruption of digital in Agriculture. Digital innovations are now infiltrating every segment of society and semi-automated tractors have become a reality. They still require drivers, but human intervention is only needed to steer the tractor at the end of each row. Semi-automation increases the comfort of use of agricultural machinery and therefore improves its productivity. Driverless tractors, initially created to follow another tractor, came later. “Follow-me” technology leads tractors between fields just like hired hands would, allowing farmers to do twice as much work. The next step? Total autonomy.
This is precisely the advantage that the two silver medal winning tractors were presenting at the SIMA tradeshow. Leading the way for a future autonomous era, both tractors offer the flexibility to work unmanned around the clock with real time data monitoring. Additionally, they allow for better use of labour and the integration into current machinery fleets. A fully interactive interface has been developed to control the machines. They can be operated through the input of field boundary maps into the system and the use of the integrated path planning software to plot the most efficient field paths for machines.
Both solutions differ on an important point: the presence or absence of a cab. The Case IH Magnum’s technology has opted for the complete removal of the cab from its tractor while the New Holland T8 NHDrive™ is a multi-purpose tractor. It offers more flexibility as it can be driven on the road with a driver in the cab or self-driven when performing compatible tasks.
These new tractors give us a glimpse into the new production methods that can keep people away from potential sources of danger. There are many risks associated with using semi-automated machinery: not stopping at obstacles, tipping over and seriously injuring people. The two CNH Industrial designs offer a complete sensing and perception package, which includes radar, LiDAR (range finding lasers) and video cameras to ensure obstacles or obstructions in the tractor’s path or that of the implement are detected and avoided. This not only ensures the safety of anybody or anything which comes within proximity of the machine, but it also guarantees trouble-free, efficient operations hour after hour in the fields.Google+