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New Holland Reveals Concept Autonomous Tractor

New Holland officially entered the race to a production-ready driverless tractor this week when the company revealed its contender — an autonomous T8 Blue Power tractor concept.

NHDrive, New Holland’s concept autonomous tractor, can work with or without an operator in the cab. At this point in development, the tractor is best for tasks that are thoroughly planned out ahead of time — like planting, tillage, or mowing. 

“This is the concept of it, but if you look at the two autonomous vehicles that are out there, this is the concept that we’re much closer to coming to market with,” says Luke Zerby, marketing manager for New Holland, North America. “It’s not hard to imagine that we could see this out in the field in a very short time.”

NHDrive relies on operator access to a desktop computer or tablet to allow remote monitoring and control. In testing, New Holland used a reliable wi-fi signal to ensure success, but further testing will see how the machine functions in different wi-fi conditions.

How Does It Work?

The tractor features two RGB cameras on the front and two on the rear of the machine to effectively monitor all that is happening in the field and let operators watch remotely. Radar and LiDAR are mounted on the front of the tractor and work together to detect obstacles. If an obstacle is sensed, the tractor stops and alerts the operator to the barrier. The operator can let the tractor know how to proceed remotely.

Preplanned routes determined by the owner or paths mapped out by the software that knows a field’s size, shape, and obstacles, help the concept tractor to navigate. Operators can modify fuel levels, engine speed, and implement settings like coulter downforce or seeding rate remotely, as well.

NHDrive was created with the ability to work alongside other machines — autonomous or not. Its goal is to make farmers more efficient by allowing them to take full advantage of optimal weather conditions by working 24 hours a day.

Going Forward 

In the future, New Holland will consider completely removing the cab on its autonomous offerings. This concept tractor will be able to respond to live weather data at some point in the future.

Both New Holland and Case IH rolled out their autonomous tractor concepts this week. Both models were products of a project with CNH Industrial. The concept debuted by Case IH was a cabless autonomous tractor.

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