John Deere says his autonomous tractor is ready for production

A titan of agricultural equipment and the scourge of right-to-fix advocates everywhere, John Deere is ready to show off his ultimate fully autonomous tractor. Here at CES, the company says that this unit will be put into mass production, and will be made available to farmers later this year. When in use, the farmer can set the devices to work and then leave them on, allowing them to do vital work elsewhere. The idea, the company says, is to help make farming more efficient and more robust in the face of ever-increasing demand and dwindling resources.

A video provided by the independent John Deere team since the beginning of 2020.

John Deere’s ambitions in this space have been in the works for some time now, and the company has been showing off a self-driving tractor at this show in 2019. At the time, it said its technology — which combines ground-based sensors and GPS — was accurate everywhere 2.5 cm or 0.9 inch. This new model has six pairs of stereo cameras around the car to help detect objects, which are then processed by a local neural network. This, along with the GPS technology mentioned above, enables it to maintain its position within a geofence around an individual field.

John Deere

The model Deere is showing off combines a Deere 8R tractor, a TruSet-equipped chisel plow and the secret sauce found in its navigation technology. It says all a farmer needs to do is drive it to the start of the field, configure it for autonomous operation, and then “swipe left to right to start the machine.” Its progress can then be monitored from a mobile device, which can receive live video, data and metrics, allowing farmers to adjust the speed and depth of digging from their phones.

We don’t yet know how much the hardware will cost, but we can imagine there will be a lot of interest from major agricultural companies both in the US and abroad as they look to lower labor costs and search for efficiencies in any way they can.

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