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Thursday, 20 January 2022 11:55

Look ma - no hands!

Written by  Mark Daniel
John Deere recently launched its JD 8R fully autonomous tractor at a trade show in Las Vegas. John Deere recently launched its JD 8R fully autonomous tractor at a trade show in Las Vegas.

Although this month's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is usually associated with the "geek brigade", global manufacturer John Deere chose it to launch new technology aimed at farmers and growers.

This event saw the release of the JD 8R fully autonomous tractor. The company points out that this is not a concept vehicle, but a fully commercial offering that will be available to North American customers later in the year.

While details are still a little scarce, it seems that a driver is still required to move the tractor to the paddock, but once there, it can be switched to autonomous mode - using JD's Operations Centre App via a mobile phone or smart device.

The tractor is currently limited to operations with a cultivator, but Rural News understands that there more implements suitable for autonomous operation in the wings. Once positioned in the paddock, the tractor checks its position relative to a Geofence - with a 2.5cm positional accuracy.

The system features 360-degree obstacle detection and distance calculations using six pairs of stereo cameras, which deliver a feed to an integral processor. This classifies individual pixels every 100 milliseconds to determine whether the tractor should continue to move or come to a stop if an obstacle is detected. If the tractor is 'unsure', it will come to a stop then contact the 'driver' via the mobile app for advice and instructions.

From the user's point of view, the tractor can be monitored remotely - with access to a live video feed, images, data and Infometrics. Meanwhile, parameters like working speed and implement operating depth easily adjusted on the move.

Key factors such as worked completed, work remaining and current fuel levels are also readily available.

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