Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

Not the most exciting gadget of the year A TV that displays NFT Or A foldable tablet computer Or something related to metavers. This is an autonomous tractor.

More specifically, it is Self-propelled John Derry 8R tractor Which can cultivate fields, avoid barriers and plant crops with minimal human intervention. It looks a lot like other John Deere tractors – it’s green and yellow – but it has six pairs of stereo cameras that scan the surroundings using artificial intelligence and operate accordingly. The farmer does not have to be anywhere near the machine to operate it, because there is a smartphone app that controls everything. The tractor will go on sale later this year, just in time for an extra special robotic harvest season.

“In my opinion, this is a big deal,” Santosh Pitla, associate professor of advanced systems systems at the University of Nebraska, told Rekod. John Deere’s equipment accounts for more than half of all agricultural equipment sold in the United States, and even the simple fact that it is putting an autonomous tractor on the market will change the way farming works. “It’s big news,” Pitla said, “and it’s good news.”

This is obviously a big deal for John Deere, but it represents a huge step forward for the agrarian movement as a whole. Simply put, perfect agriculture An idea Which uses computers, data collection, and satellite imagery to create a strategy to maximize a farm’s output. Autonomous agricultural equipment like soil sensors, specialized drones and self-propelled tractors are the key to the future where we can produce more crops. With less effort and less environmental impact. But it remains to be seen who will be in charge of that future and who will benefit from it.

There is reason to believe that farmers who own thousands of acres will be in the front line to buy John Deere’s new self-propelled tractor. 230 to 410 horsepower models, John Derry 8R tractor Large machines designed for large farms. And although the company did not say how much the new autonomous tractor would cost, existing, non-autonomous models in the 8R line Can cost upwards of 600,000. John Derry says it will sell the automation system as a kit that can be installed on its other tractor models. The company also said it was offering a subscription plan, but did not specify how much it would cost.

But even if a farmer buys the tractor directly, it is not clear who actually owns the equipment or the valuable agricultural information it collects. The new John Derry tractors are sensor-complete and Internet-connected. The machine does almost everything The logs and the floor gets beamed From an onboard cellular transmitter, and John Deere has the power To stop many of its tractors remotely If it determines that anyone has Change their equipment Or missed a lease. Many farmers said They can’t repair tractors themselves, Lest they trip a switch which completely disables the machine. This means they are being forced to pay John Deere or its authorized repair shops for their maintenance needs. Meanwhile, John Deere’s Privacy and Data Policy states that it can share data about farmer activity that its software collects with “outside parties” in certain situations.

“I’m all for innovation, and I think John Derry is a Heluva company,” said Kevin Kenny, an agricultural engineer and repairs rights lawyer. Said Ward After John Deere announced his autonomous tractor. “But they’re trying to be farming Facebook.”

John Deere says it will sell self-driving kits separately so that older models can be recreated to become autonomous.
John Deer

John Deere is not the only one working on autonomous agricultural equipment, and it is not clear what is the best use of large self-propelled tractor technology. The case has been filed The concept of an autonomous tractor It doesn’t even have a cab for a human driver, and AGCO, which owns farm equipment brands such as Fendt and Massie Ferguson, is testing small autonomous machines, including A seed planting robot This is the size of a washing machine. DJI, the popular drone maker now has a full division Dedicated to flying agricultural robots Which can help in anything from crop monitoring to spraying of targeted pesticides.

Many researchers think that working together in small machine swarms is more promising for a wide range of farmers. Pitla, a Nebraska professor, is working on a technology that will replace a single 500-horsepower tractor. 10 with 50-horsepower tractor. The swarm can not only better manage different terrain and small farms, whose lands may not be the same as large farms, but the rest can continue to work if a tractor breaks down.

“I have seen farmers planting 18 hours because the weather is perfect, the soil conditions are perfect,” Pitla said. “It simply came to our notice then. So in a way, if you have a bunch of these machines, you’re distributing the risk. “

When you consider that the agricultural industry is facing an ongoing labor shortage, which Someone says it’s getting worse, The concept of autonomous agricultural equipment is more interesting. The fact that automation takes jobs away from people may allay concerns, but it will probably take years before the widespread acceptance of automation in agriculture in the labor market can be hampered.

An agricultural drone is spraying crops.

The DJI AGRAS T30 can use GPS coordinates to spray specific crops and use radar to avoid obstacles along the way.

Farmers and technologists alike hope that self-propelled tractors and other autonomous agricultural implements will usher in an era of greater yields. The key driving force behind accurate farming is that by better understanding the soil and solving crop problems, we Can suppress more productivity Outside of the world’s limited amount of agricultural land without negative impact on the environment. This is due to the growing debate over whether industrialized agriculture is recklessly profitable and exploitative, or whether it is more efficient to consolidate farms. With the right rollout of autonomous agricultural technology, we can get it both ways.

“As in the autonomous automotive industry, the complete autonomy of farm vehicles and equipment can be considered important if not the ultimate goal in the agro-industry,” said Abhishek Silval, a project scientist working on agricultural robots at Carnegie Mellon. University of Robotics Institute. He added that automating delicate, time-sensitive tasks, such as pruning and harvesting, which typically require skilled workers, could contribute to long-term sustainability.

For now, while researchers are making drones and swans smarter, we’ve got John Derry and his self-propelled tractor. While not suitable or affordable for every farmer, new self-propelled machines are pushing autonomous agriculture into the mainstream. And unlike TVs that can display NFT, this technology can actually help feed the world.

This story was first published in the Recode newsletter. Register here So don’t miss the next one!

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