Less than two years after unveiling an autonomous concept tractor, Case IH has announced it will begin testing autonomous technology in-field.
The pilot program, according to Brad Lukac director, autonomous vehicles for CASE IH, is about trying to understand customer usability, and what value proposition such technologies offer, all while gaining valuable customer feedback.
The program will be done in partnership with Bolthouse Farms, one of the largest carrot producers in North America, and will focus on primary and deep tillage, with the use of a small fleet of autonomous Steiger Quadtrac tractors.
“We’re just now starting to play the ‘what if?’ game — where we’re asking ourselves and the Case IH engineers the questions about what autonomous tractors are capable of,” says Brian Grant, vice president of agriculture at Bolthouse Farms. “And the answers to these questions are not ‘if.’ It’s ‘when.’”
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In addition to announcing a new pilot program, Case IH has also published its five categories of automation for agricultural field applications:
- Guidance – includes automatic end-of-row turns
- Coordination and optimization – where two vehicles can coordinate in the field e.g. path planning, ISOBUS Class III
- Operator assisted autonomy – where vehicles run and behave fully automated, but operator is still present as a back-up
- Supervised autonomy – where multiple vehicles run with one supervisor
- Full autonomy
“The logic behind the categories is to provide a vision of what’s possible,” says Zemenchik. They are not linear, and a given fleet may even fit into more than one category at a time. Today, many of our customers are already operating in the Guidance and/or Operator Assisted Autonomy categories.”