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Autonomous planting system

08/10/2011 @ 2:28pm

Would you be willing to give up the driver’s seat in the tractor to automated technology? It’s a concept that has been floating around the ag industry for a few years now.

With the introduction of their Autonomy Project, which is designed to reduce the need for skilled operators by taking the human element out of the tractor cab. Kinze Manufacturing is putting that concept into practice.

“We are proud to offer the first truly autonomous row crop solution on this scale in the world,” said Susanne Kinzenbaw Veatch, vice president and chief marketing officer at Kinze. “Knowing how important it is to get crops into the ground during the short planting window, we’re excited to offer this system to help growers be productive and make the most of their harvest.”

Today the company announced they are taking that a step further by unveiling the Kinze autonomous planter.

This concept is realized by grouping technologies already in existence.

“The project marries three existing technologies – GPS, automation, and sensing – to create a system that is designed to reduce the need for skilled labor by taking the human element out of the tractor cab,” says Brian McKown of Kinze.

For planting purposes, the grower loads a field map into the global positioning system including field boundaries and any predesigned non-field areas such as waterways. After the grower takes the tractor to the field and identifies which field it is positioned in, the system generates the most efficient method to plant the field. At that point, the system positions the tractor and planter at a designated starting point and begins planting until it encounters an obstacle. Grower intervention is required to maneuver around unplanned obstacles.

This system is not limited to planting and could be used to do a variety of other tasks, including nourishing, maintaining and harvesting crops.

Is it safe?

One of the biggest concerns in the ag industry about autonomous technology has been safety. McKown says the company wants to stress this is a field solution only and is not designed for use on public roadways. With that being said, he adds that the company performed extensive obstacle detection testing to ensure the accuracy and safety of the autonomous equipment.

A complete system will be available for purchase through Kinze Manufacturing. To learn more visit www.kinze.com or contact your local dealer.

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Waiting For the Planting Window