Reveling a glimpse into the future ,CNH Industrial´s tractor brands , Case IH and New Holland , showed autonomous tractors at the recent Farm Progress Show in Boone ,Iowa .Better use of labour ,the ability to integrate into current machinery fleets , plus flexibility to work unamanned around the clock with real-time data monitoring ,were just a few of the design criteria laid out by CNH Industrial for its autonomous concept tractors .
Based on existing Case IH Magnum and New Holland T8 convetional tractors , the concepts have been designed to allow deployment , monitoring and control of machines .
The tractors are configured as two distinct versions :the cabless Magnum , which takes the operator completely out of the equation ;and the T8 NHDrive ,which retains its cab ,offering operational flexibility .The latter allows human operation for public road transport ,something autonomous vehicles are not allowed to do yet ,and when performing tasks currently unsuited to automation , such as loader work .Autonomous mode is then engaged when compatible tasks are performed .
In either format , machines can be integrated into existing fleets , says CNHI , and aside from the driverless technology ,they use a conventional engine ,transmission ,chassis and implement couplings .
At the moment , the concept has been created to validate the technology and collect customer feedback regarding their interest and the need for future autonomous products , says the manufacturer .
A fully interactive interface has been developed to control the autonomous tractors ,while providing immediate and secure feedback ,recording and transfer of operational data .The process of operating either tractor begins with imputting field boundary maps into the system via a tablet or a desktop device ,then using the integrated path planning software to plot the most efficient field paths for machines .
Autonomous technology is most suited to repetitive field work , such as cutivating ,spraying and mowing ,says the manufacturer .This system automatically accounts for implement widths and plots the most efficient paths when working with multiple machines ,including those operating with different implement widts and with varying operating requirements .Manual path plotting can be carried out for refuelling or when custom paths are required.
Once path plotting has finished ,the user can choose a job from pre-programmed menu by selected the vehicle ,choosing the field ,then setting the tractor out on its task.
In common with both concepts is a compose sensing and perception package ,which includes radar ,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 .If controlled via a tablet ,it can be mounted in another machine -the operator of which can supervise its activities .For example , from the seat of a combine or tractor , an operator can monitor progress and eventually modify performance of an autonomous tractor /planter combination working in the sense or neighbouring field .
As such ,autonomous tractors can integrate into an existing farm machinery fleet .Alternatively ,multiple autonomous tractors can be put to work in one field or separte fields , on the same tasks or consecutive ones- such as cultivation and seeding – all of which can be controlled through the same interface .