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How autonomous tractors are still not there yet

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

One would assume that 21st century farming is an autonomous and driver-less task by now. Not surprisingly, GPS technology can now detect the location of a tractor on earth in extraordinary accuracy, with a margin of error of an inch and a half! From planting to harvesting, the whole process in massive farmlands is pretty "self-repeating" and admittedly less complicated than city driving or piloting an airliner.

Such processes across all sectors, are nowadays being disrupted and with the use of machine learning the human driver is being replaced with a multi-core GPU.

One would assume that farming would be a fully autonomous task.

However, John Deere for example still requires or at least recommends that a driver may be seated behind the wheel. Despite the tractor being controlled by the on-board computer and navigated by high-accuracy GPS, humans are still not an obsolete component of the farming process.

In another application of automation, the tractor indeed is without a driver in the cabin, yet it set to the "follow-me" mode which means that the tractor is ordered to follow a human operated second vehicle in front of it. When the terrain is not ever-ending corn fields, there is nowadays also the possibility for the tractor to be operated remotely to enable a route that the strictly autonomous option would not be able to deliver. Here the 5G seamless communication will be of great importance, to be able to have real-time interaction with the machine with minimal latency.

Concluding, while advances in autonomous driving and GPS have clearly arrived, it still remains unclear when farming will be truly autonomous without significant human worry or human interaction.

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