The autonomous tractor

A new era of farming is here. John Deere’s new fully autonomous 8R tractor can be operated without anyone sitting in the cab. 

Julian Sanchez is John Deere’s director of emerging technology. He says the tractor engine is literally started from the app on the farmer’s phone. And once the machine is out doing its job, the farmer can always check in on it.

"And they can always do that through the John Deere Operation Center app and monitor what’s happening at any point. They’ll have access to live video, images, data and metrics on how the machine’s doing, and they can even adjust things like speed, remotely," says Sanchez. "Anything out of the ordinary that occurs while the tractor is active, the farmer will be notified and will be able to make decisions remotely through the John Deere Operation Center."

There are six pairs of stereo cameras that detect obstacles and distance. It continuously checks its position relative to a geofence to be sure it’s operating where it’s supposed to, within less than an inch of accuracy. And if something unexpected is in its way, the tractor knows what to do.

"For example, a billboard falls in a field. The tractor needs to be able to stop. So, to handle these types of situations we built an anomaly detection system that recognizes nominal scenes of sky, ground, and trees. And when it encounters new objects that don’t fit within the standard class of object the machine just stops," he says. "Using this technology, we’re able to achieve a very high degree of safety and performance despite situations where the autonomous tractor sees a completely new or random object."

Deere says the machine will be available to farmers later this year. 

Most Recent Poll

Will you have enough on-farm storage for harvest?

I just want to see the responses
49% (19 votes)
36% (14 votes)
Maybe, depending on yields
8% (3 votes)
No, it’s going to be a bin-buster
5% (2 votes)
No, I am looking at new bins or temporary storage
3% (1 vote)
Total votes: 39
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