Qin Zhang's name is synonymous with mechatronics, the science that integrates “mechanics” and “electronics” to create off-road machinery with a “brain.” Here are some applications this ag engineering professor at the University of Illinois envisions for the future in off-road equipment:

Automated navigationVehicles can drive themselves with the help of “intelligent obstacle avoidance.”

Active rollover prevention systemStill in the early stage, this system aims to protect both the operator and equipment by preventing rollovers from occurring in the first place. It does this by measuring slope and disabling the vehicle when it gets too steep.

Programmable E/H control valveControl-actuating components can be programmed like a computer to perform different applications.

Smart machine health monitor or “predictor.”An automated maintenance system checks equipment health and predicts remaining life so repairs can be made before breakdowns occur.

Vision-based side-dressingA vehicle-mounted camera, equipped with vision sensors, assesses crop growth conditions and then varies the amount of fertilizer applied based on those conditions.