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One step closer to autonomous landscape equipment?

September 9, 2016 -  By

Driverless technology might not be invading highways yet, but a new release in the agriculture market from Case IH is further evidence that autonomous technology may be the future of the green industry.

As Bloomberg reported, the agricultural-machinery division of CNH Industrial unveiled the Autonomous Concept Vehicle at the annual Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa. Equipped with cameras, radar and a GPS, the vehicle allows farmers to remotely operate and monitor equipment from a tablet. The concept vehicle does not have a cab, but the company said it will offer a model with a cab as an option. The tractor is still in the concept phase, and the company did not disclose when, if ever, the vehicle will move past this phase or how much it might sell for if it does.

“We know there are different levels of autonomy that our customers will be interested in,” Rob Zemenchik, Global product marketing manager for advanced farming systems at Case IH, told “We also developed a concept where we left the cab on it so that part of the time it could be an autonomous tractor and if there were tasks less suitable for autonomy, the tractor could go and execute those. For example, planting, where there are preplanned paths, would be very suitable for autonomy. But if we were say unloading a smiled of fertilizer, we would want to be with the tractor to do that.”

While the tractor is designed for farmers, autonomous mower technology is something companies like Toro and John Deere, which was once called more of a leader on autonomous technology than Google by the Washington Post, have both sunk money into robotic mower technology—as discussed in the LM February cover story. Professionals on both the manufacturing side and the contractor side believe it could be the key to solving the industry’s labor woes.

“The hypothesis is if you can make a two-man crew into a one-man crew or a three-man crew into a two, it reduces the cost of labor,” said Dana Lonn, managing director of The Toro Co.’s Center for Advanced Turf Technology.

Since many agronomic manufacturers also produce equipment for the landscape market, including CNH Industrial, which manufactures Case Construction equipment, new technology in that market is something for landscapers to keep their eyes on.

Watch the video below to learn more about Case IH’s Autonomous Concept Vehicle:



About the Author:

Dillon Stewart graduated from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, earning a Bachelor of Science in Online Journalism with specializations in business and political science. Stewart is a former associate editor of LM.

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