All the big names are developing some form of supervised autonomous solution to allow a combine operator to control the chaser bin/trailer tractor, but South Dakota-based Raven Applied Technology (a division of Raven Industries) is the first to add a system to the price list.
Described as an integrated and easily-installed aftermarket solution, AutoCart is operated via a tablet-based user interface. Compatible with iPad, Android and Windows, once the field boundary and unloading locations for the tractor have been inputted, the harvester operator can adjust the speed of the tractor and remotely monitor its location.
Fitted with camera and radar safety systems, the tractor not only drives autonomously across a field, but also syncs to the harvester to unload on the move. It then returns to a pre-determined location when the tractor can be driven manually.
The first commercially-available solution in Raven’s driverless farm technology product line was actually developed by fellow North American company Smart Ag. We saw the prototype in action on a John Deere 8230R at the 2018 edition of the Farm Progress Show (see the February 2019 issue or click on the link at the end of this story).
Smart Ag was acquired by Raven Industries at the end of 2019, and while the new owner expects to develop the supervised autonomous system for other brands and models in the near future, the first commercial system is only available for John Deere 8R series tractors. £POA
Tested in a number of different crops, including sugar beet, the primary focus next year is North America, but Raven could bring the technology to Europe within the next few years.
The company plans to launch more autonomous solutions in the near future. One of these will be the Dot autonomous spraying, seeding and fertiliser spreading platform, which Raven Industries acquired when it bought Dot Technology Corp in March 2020.