An autonomous tractor update

The hot spot at the fall farm shows was a visit to the Case IH and New Holland exhibits to see machines that had been outfitted for autonomous work. The idea of the driverless tractor gets a lot of attention, as does the idea of driverless cars or robot semi-tractor trailer rigs. Trimble, a company involved in a range of autonomous projects is working on its own program, including work in agriculture.

Recently, the company showed off an autonomous demonstration during its Trimble Dimensions annual conference. At an off-site demonstration field, the company showed a working demonstration where a Case IH Puma 150 CVT had been converted to run on its own. Of course, Trimble has been involved in auto-steering systems for several years and as far back as 2004 it introduced software that could be used in this application: NextSwath. And in 2015 the software got an update for end-of-row turns.

Already, with a driver sitting in the cab, most of the work can be done by the

tractor. But why the need for autonomy? Omar-Pierre Soubra, director of marketing communications, Trimble, explains that autonomous machines fall into the DDD category.

“They are used where it is Dangerous, Dirty or Dull,” he notes. “There are already different levels of autonomy on the market. Google cars are more autonomous, but there are other applications.”

Trimble has been involved with the OTTO self-driving semi-tractor trailer program. Recently, that truck made a 150 mile trip to deliver Budweiser from the plant to another location. The video shows the driver engaging the system then moving to the back to read a paper. The system will keep a semi properly engaged, and in its lane, along an Interstate highway.

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