Deere and Company helped mechanize agriculture with the first commercially successful steel plow in 1837. They recently went in a different direction by unveiling another transformative machine: a fully autonomous tractor. Wired says the new 8R tractor uses six pairs of cameras and advanced artificial intelligence to navigate its environment. It can find its way to a field when given a route and coordinates. Once there, it can plow soil or plant seeds without instructions, and the machine avoids the obstacles in each field. Farmers can also give the tractor new instructions through a smartphone app. Other tractors on the market can operate autonomously, but only in limited ways. They can follow a defined route through GPS but can’t avoid obstacles. Others feature limited autonomy but still need a farmer behind the wheel. Deere hasn’t announced how much it will cost. The 8R relies on neural network algorithms to interpret information from the cameras.
The full press release from Deere and Company is below:
John Deere Reveals Fully Autonomous 8R Tractor During CES 2022
MOLINE, IL (January 4, 2022) – During a press conference at CES 2022, John Deere revealed a fully autonomous tractor that’s ready for large-scale production. The machine combines Deere’s 8R tractor, TruSet-enabled chisel plow, GPS guidance system, and new advanced technologies. The autonomous tractor will be available to farmers later this year.
The autonomous 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%. Furthermore, farmers must feed this growing population with less available land and skilled labor, and work through the variables inherent in farming like changing weather conditions and climate, variations in soil quality and the presence of weeds and pests. All of these factors impact a farmer’s ability to farm during the most critical times of the year.
The autonomous tractor has 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 that classifies each pixel in approximately 100 milliseconds and determines if the machine continues to move or stops, depending on if an obstacle is detected. The autonomous tractor is also continuously checking its position relative to a geofence, ensuring it is operating where it is supposed to, and is within less than an inch of accuracy.
To use the autonomous tractor, farmers only need to transport the machine to a field and configure it for autonomous operation. Using John Deere Operations Center Mobile, they can swipe from left to right to start the machine. While the machine is working the farmer can leave the field to focus on other tasks, while monitoring the machine’s status from their mobile device.
John Deere Operations Center Mobile 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.
The full press conference can be viewed on John Deere’s CES microsite: www.JohnDeere.com/CES.
John Deere CES 2022 Booth, Panel & Tireside Chats
The fully autonomous tractor will be on display from January 5-7, 2022 at John Deere’s CES booth, located in Central Plaza at the Las Vegas Convention Center (CP-14). The booth will also showcase cutting edge technologies that are being used by farmers today, such as AI, GPS, automation and more.
John Deere will participate in three panel discussions during CES, focused on AI, 5G and autonomy:
- On January 5 at 9 a.m., John Deere’s Chief Technology Officer, Jahmy Hindman, will speak on a panel focused on exploring AI’s potential in business. Titled, Frontiers in Business AI, the panel will take place in the Las Vegas Convention Center’s North Hall in room N251.
- On January 5 at 3 p.m., Bear Flag Robotics’ Co-founder and COO, Aubrey Donnellan, will speak on a WIRED panel focused on the path to full autonomy. Titled, The Long Road to Fully Autonomous Driving, the panel will be streamed live on WIRED.com.
- On January 6 at 10:20 a.m., John Deere’s Vice President, Production & Precision Ag Production Systems, Deanna Kovar, will speak on a panel about how 5G will transform tech innovation. Titled, Seizing the Opportunity of Tech Innovation with 5G, the panel will take place in the Las Vegas Convention Center’s North Hall in room N262.
Additionally, Deere will hold a series of Tireside Chats at its booth, exploring key technologies and how they impact agriculture:
- January 5 from 3:30 – 3:45 p.m. PT: Driving (Autonomously) With Purpose
- January 6 from 11:00 – 11:15 p.m. PT: This Isn’t Old Macdonald’s Farm
- January 6 from 3:00 – 3:15 p.m. PT: Swipe To Begin Farming
All of the content and demos from Deere’s CES booth will also be available at: www.JohnDeere.com/CES