What is in this article?:
The future of driverless tractors came into closer focus this fall as Kinze unveiled an autonomous tractor system that aims to improve efficiency as farming operations gain in complexity.
How it operates
The Autonomous Harvest System includes the combine with an operator and the tractor with a grain cart. Rhett Schildroth, Kinze product manager, explains that the combine operator instructs the tractor/grain cart from a Samsung tablet computer. The tablet provides an aerial view of the field with the combine and tractor locations. It will also switch to a camera view from the tractor.
The operator can give the tractor four commands from the tablet, Schildroth says. One command is “follow” so the tractor/grain cart follows the combine in the field at a safe distance.
The “unload” command directs the tractor to accelerate and position the cart under the combine auger. The tractor matches the speed and position of the combine so the wagon remains perfectly placed under the auger.
When the cart is full, the operator pushes “park” and the tractor/grain cart moves to a predetermined location in the field to await further instruction. “Idle” is a fourth command used to bring the tractor to a controlled stop wherever it is and stay there until further instruction.
When the grain cart needs unloading into a semi, a person takes control of the tractor when it is parked by flipping down the stairs to the tractor cab. This action automatically shuts down the tractor’s autonomous system and moves to manual operation, Schildroth says. To return to autonomous operation, the stairs must be folded back up into place.