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Introducing a combine with no steering wheel

In May 2020, farmers will be able to order AGCO’s Fendt Ideal combine without a steering wheel. Instead, the machine will be equipped with the new Fendt IdealDrive introduced at the 2020 Commodity Classic. IdealDrive is a joystick steering system option that gives the combine operator a clear view of the whole header.

An unobstructed view gives farmers a clear line of sight to the center of the header where the crop enters the feeder house. This helps ensure crop is flowing smoothly into the machine for high productivity and grain quality. With nothing but foot pegs and pedals in front of them, operators can also more easily see and avoid obstacles in the field or road.

“IdealDrive takes away a lot of the physical stress and reduces the fatigue because operators can see the entire header feeding and control everything from a comfortable position in the cab,” says Zach Stejskal, product specialist. “The joystick turns a headland 180° turn into light work. Compare that with spinning a steering wheel four or five times. Joystick steering will definitely reduce operator fatigue.”

How it works

Farmers use their left hand to steer the combine by moving the joystick left or right. Force feedback guides how far to move the joystick for the desired effect. The joystick responds quickly so the machine can be steered with less body movement compared with turning the steering wheel.

Studies conducted by universities have shown that productivity increases 6% with the IdealDrive joystick compared with conventional steering systems. The joystick decreases operator steering workload by 65%. The study looked at the time it took drivers to complete a circuit on a simulated track with IdealDrive vs. conventional steering.

Fendt IdealDrive
Photo credit: Natalina Sents

The steering sensitivity adjusts based on the speed of the combine. The system is designed to optimize the operator’s control, whether the combine is harvesting or in transport mode.

More controls

In addition to steering, the left joystick controls the functions typically found on a steering wheel or steering column. In road mode, turn signals can be controlled on top of the joystick. In field mode, row-finder lights are controlled at the top of the joystick. Buttons on the back of the joystick are for dim and high-beam lights, the horn, and track guidance.

Right IdealDrive joystick
Photo credit: Natalina Sents

The right-hand hydrostat controls the machine speed.


IdealDrive is an option that can be ordered as the steering solution on Fendt Ideal combines in 2020 for delivery in 2021. These machines come with the Fendt Gold Star Customer Care that includes a three-year full machine warranty, maintenance, and a 24-hour uptime assurance plan.

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