John Deere says fully autonomous tractor advances future of farming

The self-driving tractor will be available to farmers later this year.
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 4:04 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 17, 2022 at 5:49 PM CDT
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MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) - John Deere says they’re changing the future of farming with a fully autonomous tractor. It was revealed ahead of the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in January. The fully autonomous John Deere tractor is ready for large-scale production. According to a news release, the machine combines Deere’s 8R tractor, TruSet-enabled chisel plow, GPS guidance system, and new advanced technologies.

“If you think back to going from horses to tractors and now from manned tractors to autonomous tractors is definitely a very important point in our in our history... by bringing more automation to agriculture, and the final step on that automation is autonomy. We can help make sure that the critical work is done on the farm when it needs to be done and done the way in which it needs to be done in order to grow all of the food for a growing population,” said Deanna Kovar, Deere’s Vice President of Production and Precision in Ag Production.

With the growing worker shortage, Kovar says the self-driving tractor helps make it easier for farmers. Especially since farming can not only be time-consuming, but difficult too: “agriculture is outdoor manufacturing, but nothing is consistent in the field, soil types are different. Moisture is different, elevation is different. And so in order to get the job done with skilled labor, on time and consistently, it takes a lot and with autonomy, we can help solve those problems, to help farmers be more timely, be more efficient, and also support their quality of life.”

The autonomous tractor will be available to farmers later this year. Officials estimate between 10 and 50 Deere says autonomous tillage machines will be running in the U.S., primarily in the upper midwest.

Some of its features include:

· 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 geofence, ensuring it is operating where it is supposed to, and is within less than an inch of accuracy.

To use the autonomous tractor, farmers transport the machine to a field and configure it for autonomous operation. They can start the machine using John Deere Operations Center Mobile. During operation, the farmer can leave the field to focus on other tasks, while monitoring the machine’s status from a 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 issues, farmers will be notified remotely and can make adjustments to optimize the performance of the machine.

The full press conference can be viewed on John Deere’s CES microsite:

Deere & Company is headquartered in Moline, Illinois with production facilities in the region and across the globe.

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