Deere heats up tractor autosteer price wars.

In our March article “Look, No Hands!” we predicted that the introduction of new tractor autosteer products would likely drive prices of those products down soon. We had no idea just how soon or how far those prices would drop. Now John Deere has announced that, sometime next year, it expects to introduce an automatic steering system in the $10,000 range, a considerable improvement from the $20,000 to $75,000 other companies were quoting for their systems just a few months ago.

Part of the reason Deere can offer its product at much lower cost is that it didn’t have to start from scratch. The company says new software technology from NavCom Technology, a subsidiary of Deere and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, will improve the accuracy of its current GreenStar GPS signal from 1 ft. to about 4 in. The software offers enhanced calculations for GPS satellite orbit and clock errors. This newfound accuracy will allow Deere’s autosteer system to drive extremely straight lines via GPS satellite without requiring customers to buy a base station for further signal triangulation. However, users will need to subscribe to Deere’s StarFire network.

Deere hasn’t divulged all the details on exactly how it intends to market its new autosteer product. It could be available within a few months as a retrofit or only on new equipment. For more information, contact John Deere North American, Dept. FIN, 11145 Thompson Ave., Lexena, KS 66219, 913/310-9324, www.johndeere.com.