While most autonomous vehicles are meant to travel over the highway, John Deere’s new 8R tractor shown at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show will likely only traverse fields and it will do so without a human at the wheel.
The tractor is slated to be available to farmers in late 2022 and has six pairs of stereo cameras to generate a 360 degree view of obstacles. It also uses location technology, including GPS, to ensure it is where it is supposed to be with a claimed accuracy of 1 inch. You can see a video about the beast below.
According to press releases, the company has been testing the technology for at least 3 years. It is controlled by — what else? — a smartphone app that can set it to its task and monitor it remotely, allowing the farmer to monitor and control the operation from anywhere. The company claims it can prepare 325 acres in 24 hours.
In the video, it mentions you can let the tractor run 24 hours a day, too, so we presume the cameras don’t need ambient lighting to work. We imagine that the price of this will be staggering and — honestly — if you’ve done any sort of robotics, it doesn’t seem like a very difficult task. You have to wonder if there will be cheaper competitors if the usually- conservative farming industry starts to adopt the technology. Of course, big competitors such as Case IH have either announced plans or demonstrated pilot programs to do similar things.
Not that there aren’t already driverless tractors available from the likes of Monarch and Fendt, and even companies that will refit existing equipment such as The Autonomous Tractor Corporation and Bear Flag Robotics.
Usually when we are talking about John Deere is it related to their reticence to let people repair tractors. If you are thinking about building your own, you might want to start your research with this project.