“The global population is expected to grow from about 8 billion to nearly 10 billion people by 2050, increasing global food demand by 50%,” says Jahmy Hindman, chief technology officer at John Deere. “Farmers must also work through the variables like changing weather conditions, variations in soil quality, and managing weeds and pests – all of which impact his ability to farm during critical times of the year.”
Equipped with six pairs of stereo cameras that enable 360-degree obstacle detection and distance calculation, the images are passed through a network that classifies each pixel in about 100 milliseconds. This determines if the machine continues or stops. The machine also continuously monitors its position relative to a geofence in order to make sure it is operating correctly within a fraction of an inch.
“The autonomous 8R tractor collected more than 50 million images during in-field testing for the last three years,” says Willy Pell, VP Autonomy and New Ventures at John Deere.
Once the tractor is transported to the field, the farmer configures the machine for autonomy. The John Deere Operations Center mobile App allows the farmer to simply swipe the app to start the tractor autonomously. It works. Farmers can still remotely monitor the machine from their mobile devices, even though they are away from the field. A farmer can adjust speed, depth, and other metrics by having access to live video, images and data.
Should an anomaly or an issue appear in the field, a farmer will be alerted and be able to adjust, so the machine’s performance is optimized. The 8R autonomous tractor can prepare 325 acres in 24hrs.
“The autonomous 8R tractor is doing something that was once thought impossible,” says Julian Sanchez, director, emerging technology for John Deere. “This machine is creating a digital footprint of the farm.”
Deere claims that the autonomous 8R tractor is coming soon.
Source: Successful Farming