Case IH Introduces Autonomous Tractor PrototypeAndrew Tellijohn -
As part of a focus on producing innovative farm equipment that helps users become more efficient, Case IH has introduced an autonomous tractor with no cab that can be operated remotely through the monitoring of preprogrammed operations.
Company officials displayed the tractor at the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa. They say the introduction was not a product launch, but rather a means for seeking feedback on a product that could be officially offered to the public down the road.
Case IH and CNH's Industrial Innovation Group based the concept on an existing Case IH Magnum tractor. The onboard system automatically accounts for implement widths and plots the most efficient paths for finishing work, based on the terrain, obstructions and other machines being used in the same field.
The remote operator can supervise and adjust pathways via desktop computer or portable tablet interface.
Through the use of radar, LiDAR (light imaging, detection and ranging) and onboard video cameras, the tractor can sense stationary or moving obstacles in its path and will stop on its own until the operator, notified by audio and visual alerts, assigns a new path. It also will stop immediately if GPS signals or position data is lost, or if the manual stop button is pushed.
"An autonomous tractor like this could seamlessly integrate into an existing farm machinery fleet, with minimal operational changes," says Leo Bose, advanced farming systems marketing manager. "Multiple autonomous vehicles could be put to work in one field or separate fields, on the same tasks or consecutive ones. It could allow a person working with no employees to operate multiple tractors, or could complement very large operations that have challenges finding ample skilled workers."
The test came as part of the company's "Rethink Productivity" tagline, which it has adopted in order to demonstrate a new focus on future innovations that aim to help producers achieve high-efficiency farming practices.
The tagline also was unveiled during the Farm Progress Show.
The tagline "embodies our approach to equipment innovation and our customers' approach to their operations," says Tom Dean, marketing director for Case IH North America. "In today's ag economy, producers know they must focus on achieving the highest level of efficiency if they want to grow and succeed. That's why we are intensifying our focus on the combination of advanced technologies and agronomic design in the pursuit of high-efficiency farming."