No operator? No problem for Deere autonomous tractors

John Deere’s Derek Targerson

John Deere continues its push to bring fully autonomous tractors and tillage to farmers around the globe.

At Agritechnica 23, the farm machinery maker’s 8RX 410 tractor with an autonomy kit attracted plenty of attention from farmers visiting the agriculture innovation showcase held in Hanover, Germany.

In this video report, Derek Targerson, Deere’s global product marketing manager for autonomy and automation, shares how 360-degree cameras mounted on the tractor produce a stream of images that artificial intelligence uses to see objects in the field, triangulate distance and determine whether it’s safe to drive — all in about 100 milliseconds.

To function autonomously, Targerson notes that the tractor also relies on John Deere tractor components and applications that farmers already know well, including a StarFire receiver and AutoTrac turn automation.

“Everything is done through our John Deere Operations Center,” says Targerson. “That’s the heartbeat of the system. They’re able to go onto John Deere Ops Center, make a path plan and see where their tractor is at all times.” He adds that farmers can manage an autonomous tractor directly from their mobile device. “It’s a simple swipe on their phone, and they’ll be able to have the tractor run autonomously.”

In the interview below, Targerson tells RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin that farmers who’ve worked with Deere autonomous tractors have noted how it can reduce labour demands. Alternatively, farmers can reallocate labour required for tractor operations more strategically to tackle farm management tasks. (Story continues after the video.)

Targerson says the company is currently working to extend autonomous features to other models throughout its tractor line-up. He also notes that much of the early work on the technology has focused on functionality in corn and soybean crops, but farmers can expect to the see the autonomous Deere tractors working in small grains crops in near future.

RealAgriculture’s coverage of Agritechnica is brought to you by Optimum Gly, a new canola trait technology from Corteva Agriscience.  

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