John Deere revealed a fully autonomous tractor ready for large-scale production at CES 2022, a global tech event hosted by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)
The machine combines Deere's 8R tractor, TruSet-enabled chisel plough, GPS guidance system and other advanced technologies. The autonomous tractor will be available for purchase in late 2022, said Deere.
According to Global Agricultural Productivity, a research initiative by Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Science and Virginia Tech Foundation, 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 are required to feed the growing population with less available land and skilled labour and work through the variables inherent in farming like changing weather conditions and variations in soil quality.
The autonomous tractor features 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 the vehicular movement depending on obstacle detection. The tractor also continuously checks its position relative to a geofence, ensuring its operational location within less than an inch of accuracy.
Configuring the tractor for autonomous operation requires the operator only to transport the vehicle to the job area. The John Deere Operations Center Mobile, allows the operator to start the machine by a simple left to right swipe on their mobile phone. The app also allows the operator to monitor the vehicle’s status remotely.
John Deere Operations Center Mobile also provides access to live video, images, data and metrics to allow the operator to adjust speed, depth and more. In the event of job quality anomalies or machine health issues, farmers will be notified remotely and can make adjustments to optimise the performance of the machine.