Finding capable staff to drive the chaser bin come harvest time is a challenge for grain farmers across the globe.
But a potential solution is on the horizon.
CNH Industrial showcased its Driver Assist Harvest Solution earlier this month at its Tech Day outside Phoenix, Arizona.
The automated technology allows the harvester driver to call a driverless tractor pulling a grain bin up alongside the harvester and set the tractor's path and speed.
These two machines can then be synchronised to unload on the go.
The solution builds on Case IH's existing harvest technology, which has been integrated with Raven Autonomy.
Raven customer experience manager Ben Sees said the technology has been in development for the past five years.
He said it would be further developed over the next two years as they worked to increase the value, return on investment, features and functionality of the system.
The harvester and tractor on display at the Tech Day were fitted with aftermarket technology allowing the machines to be in constant communication.
Mr Sees said the tractor had also been fitted with a safety perception system.
"When you remove somebody from the tractor, essentially that person in the tractor is the perception system, so we have to keep both assets and people safe and that's how we do that, by putting a safety perception system on the tractor," he said.
"We train it to see people, different objects and vehicles.
"It's very intuitive, it's very close to self-learning because of the way we classify objects and train that system."
The Driver Assist Harvest Solution is classed as level four autonomy, meaning it requires a supervisor.
In this case, that supervisor is the person driving the harvester.
"They are essentially hitting a button, it takes a dynamic path plan to get to where they want to be, and then essentially just hit a button again and it syncs to the combine or it goes to a staging point or the unloading point," Mr Sees said.
"What's nice about this is you have a mile range (1.6 kilometre) because of the type of technology we have in there.
"If you're working on one side of the field but your truck is over there where you're unloading, you can still send that tractor over there and then bring that tractor back to you."
At present the machine takes the fastest path to reach the harvester but developing the technology to suit controlled traffic farming systems is on the cards.
Mr Sees said keeping combines moving at harvest time was the ultimate goal.
In the long run this solution could save farmers time, money and reduce driver fatigue.
A limited release of the Driver Assist Harvest Solution has taken place and a small number of farmers are using the system.
"We did a very extensive testing period on this last year and we're going to continue doing that," Mr Sees said.
"We don't know for sure when we are going to do a large-scale commercial release, it all depends on where we price it and where we can make the most impact right away in the market."
Once finalised, the technology will be commercially released for both the Case IH and New Holland brands.
Mr Sees expected it would be released on the New Holland T8 tractor series first, then rolled out to other tractors models such as the T9 and Case IH Steiger.
- The writer travelled as a guest of CNH Industrial.