Agriculture Via The App: John Deere Presents Autonomous Cyber Tractor

Agricultural machinery manufacturer John Deere presented a self-propelled cyber tractor at the technology fair (CES) in Las Vegas. Farmers should retrofit their tractors with the autonomous system and then control them via smartphone. According to the manufacturer, the technology is already ready for series production.

Sitting relaxed on the terrace, tapping on the smartphone and watching as your tractor ploughs the field on its own: this or something like that, the American agricultural machinery manufacturer John Deere envisions the agriculture of the future.

The company presented a self-driving cyber tractor at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) technology fair in Las Vegas to make this vision of the future a reality. Farmers should retrofit their tractors with a specially developed autonomous system.

Will It Be Launched Later This Year?

The new John Deere cyber tractor is based on an existing model. However, the Robo version of the John Deere 8R is more than just a prototype. Because according to the manufacturer, the autonomous system for the cyber tractor is already ready for series production.

James Hindman, John Deere’s chief technology officer, told Reuters that the company would start production this year and ship the first systems in limited numbers.

It is currently unclear whether the technology will initially be reserved for the US market or come directly to Germany and Europe. John Deere has also been silent about the price so far. However, for the autonomous system, both a fixed price and a subscription model are conceivable.

This Is How The John Deere Cyber Tractor Works

John Deere has been researching autonomous systems for its tractors for several years. To go into series production, the agricultural machinery manufacturer took over Bear Flag Robotics, a manufacturer of autonomous control systems, in September 2021.

The company has had the system for the cyber tractor presented in Las Vegas tested by farmers for several years. In contrast to the electric cars from Tesla, where a person still has to sit behind the wheel in autopilot mode, the robot tractor manages without a driver.

Control And Fuel Gauge Via App

Farmers can control the cyber tractor via smartphone. For example, with a swipe to the right, you can set the machine in motion in John Deere’s Mobile Operations Center. So that the robot tractor does not collide with obstacles, the manufacturer has equipped the autonomous system with various cameras and sensors.

Based on artificial intelligence (AI), the system calculates distances, recognizes obstacles and monitors the area around the cyber tractor with a 360-degree view. The fuel gauge can also be checked with the app. Farmers can also observe the movements of their machines via live video.

The AI ​​was trained with several million images. During the journey, the system compares the photos taken with the database to the nearest millisecond and the nearest centimetre, according to the manufacturer.

It Doesn’t Work Entirely Without People And Cybercriminals

To use the system, however, farmers may first have to transport the robot tractor to their fields because the cyber tractor may only be driven on the road with a person at the wheel. If the control system detects an insurmountable obstacle, action is also required.

The same applies if, for example, the plough has been misaligned during work. However, as in other industries, software-based systems keep calling cyber criminals on the scene. In the past year, for example, IT experts discovered weaknesses in the software of various agricultural machinery manufacturers.

However, John Deere emphasized that no data had been misused. The company has also increased its cybersecurity investments by around 750 per cent in recent years. It is still unclear when the first autonomous systems will come onto the market. However, John Deere wants to support the tractors of the past three years of production.

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