John Deere revealed its first-ever fully autonomous 8R robot tractor
The revolution in farming is here with John Deere
Farming and agriculture can benefit significantly from automation due to the time-consuming and often repetitive nature of many important tasks. In fact, the idea of driverless tractors has been around since the 1940s when Frank Andrew used the "follow me" technology. John Deere himself started making self-driving tractors in 1997.
However, a fully-automated tractor that can operate completely independently is a game-changer.
Far from being a futuristic concept to excite fans, it’s a fully-developed piece of machinery. The tractor is already in mass production and will be available to buy later in 2022 for about $58,000.
Traditionally, a farmer, or skilled worker, is needed to operate a tractor. However, the tasks tractors perform can take hours or even a whole day, such as plowing, tilling, sowing, or harrowing.
With an automated tractor, the farmer is free to spend their time managing other areas of their farm. In this way, John Deere aims to help farmers increase their yields and operate more efficiently.
Tech in the Tractor
The John Deere autonomous tractor combines the 8R tractor with a bunch of autonomous and robotics technology. Some features include:
- Six pairs of stereo cameras for a 360° view and obstacle-detection
- The ability to calculate distance
- Maintain its operating zone within a predetermined geofence
- It can be operated from the John Deere Operations Center Mobile app
- GPS guidance system
- TruSet-enabled chisel plow
- Detailed reporting on machine operation, progress, and status
- Able to connect to John Deere Operations Center for farm management
What’s more impressive is that all these technologies are controlled via a deep neural network for intelligent decision-making. For example, when it comes to obstacle avoidance, the autonomous tractor classifies each pixel collected from its 12 cameras within approximately 100 milliseconds. This allows it to quickly calculate the risk of collision depending on the tractor’s speed and trajectory.
All this information, and even live video feeds, can be accessed from the mobile app at any time. Interestingly, John Deere also worked with NASA to develop the self driving tractor technology back in the day. They are also working on other cool machines like a fully autonomous electric tractor and an autonomous drone sprayer.
With all this software and data running through the tractors, some argue that the farmers don't actually own the tractors. That's up for debate but we should be aware of some of the downsides to our methods of handling technology.
Ok back to something more light hearted...
John Deere states that they created the autonomous tractor for a single purpose: “feeding the world.” Using its myriad of sensors and intelligent systems, this fully-automated tractor is meant to help farmers get more done with less time, land, and skilled workforce.
It also helps to help farmers deal with challenges, such as changing climate, weather conditions, and soil composition. Regardless of where the farmer is, they’ll be able to see precisely what the tractor is doing via the mobile app.
The resulting benefits should be:
- Reduced operating costs
- Less dependence on skilled labor
- More time and flexibility to focus on the business
- Higher yields and overall productivity
Photo from Ohio Country Journal
About John Deere
John Deere is the brand name of the American corporation Deere & company. They are one of the leading manufacturers of various kinds of heavy equipment, such as agricultural machinery, forestry machinery, diesel engines, drivetrains, and lawn care equipment.
On a related note, see our article on the autonomous weeder by FarmWise..
For more ideas in autonomous farming, check out video below. Happy growing!
Also, incase you didn't know, Lamborghini also makes tractors. Yeah, we didn't know either. It was the tractors that came before the cars. Pretty cool!
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"It is a source of consolation to me to know that I never willfully wronged any man and that I never put on the market a poorly-made implement" - John Deere