If you were to see a New Holland tractor equipped with NHDrive, you might think it looks fairly typical of the machines of today. But beyond its stylish blue and silver exterior is a fully autonomous, unmanned vehicle.
NHDrive was developed by CNH Industrial in collaboration with Utah-based Autonomous Solutions Incorporated. It allows tractors to function autonomously, while providing an operator with access to tractor and implement data (and controls) through a desktop or portable tablet.
Tractors with the technology follow predetermined and optimized work plans. Their software takes into consideration field size and shape to determine optimum field plans, and it’s even possible to send them on pre-mapped paths on private roads on the farm.
Using a combination of radar, range-finding lasers and RGB cameras, the tractors’ technology enables it to detect in-field obstacles. When necessary, it sends a message to the interactive interface, and the person can view the obstacle through live camera feeds, deciding how to proceed from there.
Besides up to four live camera feeds (two in the front, and two in the rear), viewable screens also show the tractor’s progress, and key machine and implement parameters (e.g. engine speed, seeding rate).
Right now, the technology allows the tractor to autonomously seed while utilizing Precision Land Management technology. In the “foreseeable future” New Holland says the technology will fully automate grain handling during harvest, and it’s conceivable that one day, their complete tractor range will be available with NHDrive technology.