On the 4th of January 2022, John Deere shared the exciting news of their fully autonomous tractor that is ready for large scale production. The announcement shared that the new machine is made up of Deere’s 8R tractor, TruSet-enabled chisel plough, GPS guidance system, and new advanced technologies. The tractor should be available for farmers to purchase later in the year.
The autonomous tractor serves a specific purpose: feeding the world. The global population is expected to grow from about 8 billion to nearly 10 billion people by 2050, increasing the global food demand by 50%. Furthermore, farmers must feed this growing population with less available land and skilled labour, while battling climate change. All of these factors impact a farmer’s ability to farm during the most critical times of the year.
How does John Deere‘s autonomous tractor work
The autonomous tractor has six pairs of stereo cameras, which enables 360-degree obstacle detection and the calculation of distance. Images captured by the cameras are passed through a deep neural network that classifies each pixel in approximately 100 milliseconds and determines if the machine continues to move or stops, depending on if an obstacle is detected. The autonomous tractor is also continuously checking its position relative to a geo-fence, ensuring it is operating where it is supposed to, and is within less than an inch of accuracy.
To use the autonomous tractor, farmers only need to transport the machine to a field and configure it for autonomous operation. Using John Deere Operations Center Mobile, they can swipe from left to right to start the machine. While the machine is working the farmer can leave the field to focus on other tasks, while monitoring the machine’s status from their mobile device.
John Deere Operations Center Mobile provides access to live video, images, data and metrics, and allows a farmer to adjust speed, depth and more. In the event of any job quality anomalies or machine health issues, farmers will be notified remotely and can make adjustments to optimize the performance of the machine.
This progress with technology shows hope for the future of the agricultural sector and moreover the farmer.