Farm machinery giant John Deere unveiled its first driver-less tractor at the CES technology show in America.
The company says the fully autonomous tractor is ready for large-scale production and it will be available for farmers later this year.
John Deere says the new tractor is a combination of its 8R tractor, TruSet-enabled chisel plow, GPS guidance system and new advanced technologies.
“The autonomous tractor serves a specific purpose – feeding the world,” said John Deere.
“The global population is expected to grow from about 8 billion to 10 billion people by 2050, increasing the global food demand by 50%.”
It said the new tractor was designed to help farmers feed the growing population with less land and skilled labour, while tackling the usual challenges of changing weather, variations in soil quality and the presence of weeds and pests.
How it works
According to John Deere, the new driver-less tractor features six pairs of stereo cameras, which enable 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 if an obstacle is detected,” said John Deere.
“The autonomous tractor is also continuously checking its position relative to a geofence, ensuring it is operating where it is supposed to, and is accurate to within less than one inch.”
It said to operate the tractor, a farmer simply needs to transport the machine to a field and configure it for autonomous operation and by using the John Deere Operations Center Mobile it can start the machine by swiping from left to right.
“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,” added John Deere.
It said the John Deere Operations Center Mobile gives the farmer access to live video, images, data and metrics of the tractor in operation so they can adjust the speed or depth of the machine.
“In the event of any job-quality anomalies or machine-health issues, farmers will be notified remotely and can make adjustments to optimise the performance of the machine,” added John Deere.