The crowd was abuzz at CES 2022 when John Deere officials announced that its autonomous tractor will be available to farmers later this year.
The announcement that the fully autonomous tractor is ready for large-scale production came during a press conference at Consumer Technology Association’s show in Las Vegas this week.
Deere officials touted the high-tech machine’s specific purpose is to help feed the planet’s population which is expected to grow from about 8 billion to 10 billion by 2050, increasing food demand by 50%…world. The autonomous 8R 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 percent.
With the number of farmers declining and growing older, finding labor to help plant and harvest crops becoming more difficult. Add in the variables inherent in farming like changing weather conditions and climate, variations in soil quality and the presence of weeds and pests, farming is becoming more challenging each year.
Deere says that’s where technology helps farms remain productive and reduces the pressure of finding extra manpower. In the past, self-guided tractors required operators to remain in the cab.
After setting the tractor in autonomous mode, the farmer can leave the field to focus on other tasks, while monitoring the machine’s status from their mobile device using the John Deere Operations Center Mobile app.
The app 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.
Deere officials told Axios that the tractor is outfitted with a GPS guidance system and new advanced technologies including artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.
The 8R tractor is equipped with 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 at a rate of three frames per second to determine the presence of an obstacle and whether or not the machine continues to move or stops.
The autonomous tractor is also constantly checking its position relative to a geofence, ensuring it is operating where it is supposed to, within an inch of accuracy.