WHILE Case IH drove the point home by removing the cab in their futuristic autonomous concept vehicle, the New Holland NH Drive showed we could have it both ways when it comes to autonomous technology.
Developed by CNH Industrial in collaboration with its long-standing technology provider Autonomous Solutions Incorporated (ASI) the NH Drive perhaps presented a more realistic view of the future at the AgQuip field days.
While it may have retained the cab, New Holland Agriculture national product manager Tony Peters said the NH Drive tractor has the capacity to reach the field autonomously via private on-farm tracks, working together with other autonomous or traditional operator controlled machines.
“The New Holland NH Drive 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,” Mr Peters said.
Jeff Saunders New Holland Agriculture commercial business manager for Queensland, northern NSW and the Northern Territory said that he was excited to have the chance to showcase where the future of the industry is going at AgQuip.
“Agriculture is exciting and there is a lot that’s happening in agriculture and this a chance for us to show what we have been developing behind the scenes,” he said.
Mr Saunders said the NH Drive concept tractor was made up of technologies that were already proven and becoming available in their range.
Likening the tractor industry to that of racing, Mr Saunders said the whole of industry benefited by the concept program.
“Technology gets developed in formulae one cars, then it moves into high performance cars and from there into general cars and we are following that same track,” he said.
Marc Smith the New Holland Agriculture product manager for combines and high horsepower tractors said that technology down flow had already occurred.
“The autonomous project has given us the ability to transfer some of that technology into our tractors, one our products IntelliSteer is a direct child of the autonomous project”
IntelliSteer is a fully integrated New Holland designed and developed automatic steering system.
Mr Smith believes that the evolution of tractor technology is itself driving the speed of innovation.
“As this technology develops it is also decreasing in price driven by the automotive sensing and the automation industry,” he said.
“Some sensors on the concept tractor ten years ago were a hundred thousand dollars, this year are only seven or eight thousand dollars, so whats exciting is this space, this innovation space were involved in is evolving very quickly and becoming very commercially viable” he said.
Mr Smith said customer feedback is very important to New Holland.
“We have the ability by showing this tractor to get feedback from our customers to say ‘what sort of autonomous tractor do you need?’” he said.
“Do you need a full autonomous tractor, do you need a semi-autonomous tractor, and you can see with this machine its the evolution of this,” he said.
Mr Saunders said that the retaining the cabin in the NH Steer was a conscious decision by the company following customer feedback.
Mr Saunders said that increasing agricultural production was a necessity and the industry needs to look to the future.
“In forty years where is the production of agriculture going to be? The planet is going to be housing a lot more people and the longevity of people is going to increase as well, all these people have to be fed,”
Mr Saunders said that labour was another key driver to the potential uptake of autonomous technology.
“It allows you to redistribute labour to more value added projects on the farm,” he said.