Driverless Tractors in Agriculture:
- A driverless tractor the one which is used as a vehicle on the farm. This is special because it gives a very good tractive effort when the speeds are low.
- This vehicle is used for tillage and a few other works in agriculture. As the tractor operates without any human, it is termed a driverless tractor.
- This vehicle is programmed the same as other unmanned ground vehicles. It can observe its own position, it can also take decisions regarding speed, it can also avoid any kind of hurdles in its way while working.
- Most of the driverless tractors are divided based on supervised autonomy and fully autonomous technology.
- This idea was first proposed in the year 1940 but came into existence in recent years.
- GPS and a few other technologies which operate wireless are used by these tractors with the guidance of a supervisor who would be taking care of the control station or with a tractor that is manned to lead it.
- This driverless tractor has been introduced to improve automation in the agricultural field too.
- We have a few more technologies that are used in present-day agriculture, such as automatic milking, etc. Developing such technology is a very tough task. To make it a success, the tractor must be programmed with the tasks prior to use. It should be deterministic. It should be known on which path to take on the field. It needs to be able to react to situations that are unknown such as obstacles or animals in their way. It should also be able to make decisions without taking much time such as changing the angle of steering whenever necessary. The driverless tractor should be able to drive in the same way, such as humans by observing its own position and take decisions regarding the speed it has to put up.
Technologies used in the manufacture of Driverless tractors:
Full autonomous technology:
- In the present day, most of the driverless tractors which work on full autonomous technology will be using lasers for the purpose of navigation.
- These lasers will be bouncing the signals from many mobile transponders which are surrounding the field. These lasers have radios of 150 MHz so that they would help to deal with the issues of line-of-sight.
- In the place of drivers, there would be controllers in the driverless tractors. These controllers act as supervising agents on different fields being in a single location.
- There is another technology that is fully autonomous, and this uses the native electrical system of the tractor. This is used to send commands to the tractor.
- By using the position of the GPS and the feedback from the radio, the automation software would be able to manage the path of the vehicle and can control the implementation of the farming.
- There would be a retrofit radio receiver and a computer on-board to receive the commands from the command station which is located in a remote place. This also helps in the translation of the commands into vehicle commands such as acceleration, steering, etc.
- There are also sensor technologies that are in use to increase the safety of the tractor by detecting the obstacles in its path and reacting to them by taking the necessary decisions immediately.
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- The tractors that work as per the supervised autonomy are the ones which work on the technology which is automated. But the difference between the fully automated and supervised autonomy is that there would be an operator present in the supervised autonomy.
- A wireless connection will be placed between the two vehicles to exchange the data.
- The tractor which is leading ie., the tractor which has a supervising operator, will determine the speed and the direction. This information is then transferred to the tractors which are driverless and they tend to imitate the same.
Driverless tractors in India:
The first driverless tractor was introduced at Mahindra Research Valley in the city of Chennai. This tractor will be taking the automation to the next level.
- By using a driverless tractor, the farm would get good production by helping the farmer to get profits. This also reduces the dangers in terms of health to the farmers. This would also change the production of food in the future.
- This driverless technology has been designed to make the tractors work on different applications of farming.
- The tractor which is working on driverless technology can be programmed in such a way that it can work on specific tasks and can also perform on the field where it gets operated from a remote location.
- This is planned to make a commercial one from this year i.e., 2018.
Technical Features of the Driverless Tractor:
This tractor has state-of-the-art technology and the features of this tractor are mentioned below:
- It has an Auto-steer technology, which is based on GPS and this is the one which helps the tractor to travel in a straight path.
- The feature of Auto-headland turn which makes the tractor to turn along the side rows for the operation to be continuous without giving any input in terms of steering by the operator or the farmer.
- Auto-Implement lift is a feature which will make the tractor lift the took of the work from the land at the end of a row and the tool will be lowered after the tractor takes a turn to operate the next row.
- Skip-passing is another feature in the driverless tractor will make the tractor to drive to the next row for the operation to be continuous without any sort of interruption from the operator.
The features of the driverless tractor in terms of Safety:
- There would be a Geofence lock which will prevent the tractor from moving away from the boundaries of the farm.
- A Tablet User Interface is used for the control which would help the farmer to provide different inputs to the tractor. These inputs would be helpful to increase the efficiency of the farm. This feature also gives control to prevent the tractor from crossing the path which is programmed and the farmer will also be able to control the driverless tractor with the help of a tablet.
- It has a Remote Engine Start and Stops which would be able to abort the engine which would stop the tractor completely in the situations of emergency.
Advantages of Driverless tractors:
- The driverless tractors will do the planting automatically with very good accuracy which results in the conservation of seeds. This would slowly increase the returns of the farm leading the farmer to profits.
- The sensors of the tractors will be able to collect the data regarding the conditions of soil, the maintenance of the crops which are already planted. It can also get all the data regarding the harvest before and after the cultivation.
- By using this technology, the farmers can work for many hours without taking any kind of stress
- The farmers will also get protection from the health hazards which occur while spraying the chemical fertilizers as that part of the work would be done by the driverless tractors without any sort of help from the humans.
- These can also make sure that there is a very good quality in terms of the operations in farming and it is going to lead the farm in such a way that the productivity boosts which in turn leads to excellent yield.
Driverless Tractor Price In India:
The cost of the driverless tractor depends on variants. However, the average cost of the driverless tractor is around Rs. 7,80,000 (expected price, not sure of exact price). You should find out with your tractor dealer.
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