MOLINE, IL—Deere & Co. plans to begin assembling a driverless tractor later this year at its flagship factory in Waterloo, IA. The machine, based on the company’s popular 8R row crop tractor, will feature a GPS guidance system and advanced autonomous technologies designed for plowing applications.
Six pairs of stereo cameras will enable 360-degree obstacle detection and the calculation of distance. Images captured by the cameras will be passed through a deep neural network that classifies each pixel in approximately 100 milliseconds and determines if the machine continues to move or stops, depending on if an obstacle is detected. The autonomous tractor will continuously check its position relative to a geofence—ensuring it is operating where it is supposed to—accurate to within less than 1 inch.
While the machine is working, farmers will be able to leave their field to focus on other tasks while monitoring the machine’s status from a mobile device. The John Deere Operations Center will provide access to live video, images, data and metrics that will enable farmers to adjust performance variables such as speed.