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The future of farming?

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Autonomous tractors have the potential to revolutionise the way in which many farm tasks are carried out. Two new concept vehicles from New Holland and Case IH showcase what technology has to offer


New Holland’s concept autonomous tractor
The New Holland NHDrive concept autonomous tractor is a driverless machine which can perform a wide range of farming tasks day and night. It is also able to reach the field autonomously via private on-farm tracks, to work together with other autonomous or traditional operator-controlled machines and, courtesy of the cab, it can still be driven by an operator, ensuring maximum flexibility, according to New Holland. The New Holland NHDrive autonomous tractor is an unmanned vehicle that is fully autonomous and can be monitored and controlled via a desktop computer or via a portable tablet interface.
“This enables farmers to access tractor and implement data, wherever they are, from different locations, while checking fields from the comfort of their pick-up, while tending livestock or while at home, and always whenever they need,” a New Holland spokesperson said. “This facilitates right-time decision-making to enhance operational efficiency and productivity. Furthermore, farmers will maintain full control and ownership of their data.”
Able to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, New Holland says the NHDrive tractor helps to reduce the risks associated with human error as it follows predetermined and optimised plans for all activities.

Case IH concept vehicle
Case IH has also unveiled an autonomous concept vehicle. The concept vehicle is a cabless Case IH row crop tractor that can operate autonomously with a wide range of field implements. “In many parts of the world, finding skilled labour during peak use seasons is a constant challenge for our customers,” said Case IH brand president, Andreas Klauser. “While we offer auto-steering and telematics on our equipment today for remote management of farm machinery and employees, this autonomous tractor concept demonstrates how our customers and their employees could remotely monitor and control machines directly. This technology will offer our customers greater operational efficiencies for tasks such as tillage, planting, spraying and harvesting.” Mr Klauser said the concept was created to validate the technology and to collect customer feedback regarding their interest and need for future autonomous products for their operations.
The vehicle was built for a fully interactive interface to allow for remote monitoring of pre-programmed operations. The onboard system automatically accounts for implement widths and plots the most efficient paths depending on the terrain, obstructions and other machines in use in the same field. The remote operator can supervise and adjust pathways via a desktop computer or portable tablet interface.