John Deere’s self-driving tractor arrives later this fall

Prototypes of the self-driving tractor have been piloted in fields since fall 2019. Come fall 2022, however, the company will finally be opening sales on the system. According to John Deere, The 8R tractor has been in select customers’ hands for a few seasons now. After all, like any kind of autonomous machinery, a self-driving tractor isn’t the kind of thing that can be just launched for the whole world to use without extensive testing.

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More on John Deere’s self-driving tractor

In spite of the company’s recent acquisition of Bear Flag Robotics, it says that none of the startup’s autonomy technology went into this system, which has been in the works for several years. Future Bear Flag-driven offerings will provide farmers an opportunity to retrofit their existing tractors with self-driving tech. But, John Deere is focused on 8R that is the self-contained solution for the time being.

The system sports six pairs of stereo cameras, powered by a pair of Nvidia Jetson modules, offering a full view of its surrounding. Its GPS guidance system, coupled with geofencing, keeps the system on track for initial tasks, such as tilling. That’s controlled remotely by the John Deere Operations Center Mobile, which offers access to images, live video, and data from the job.

The system will initially be offered selectively through dealers in the upper Midwest of the U.S. John Deere will assist farmers in the implementation. The 8R is on display this week at CES in Las Vegas.

Uses of automation in agriculture

Agriculture remains far more dangerous than other employment sectors. It has fatal injuries per 100,000 workers about 20 times higher than the average across all sectors. Automated tractors and other farm equipment arguably remove the farmer from close proximity to heavy machinery. But,sw also rely on the technology’s ability to detect potential dangers.

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