2022 - Volume #46, Issue #2, Page #39[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Combine Operator Controls Auto-Drive Grain Cart Tractor
“The combine operator controls all the functions of the grain cart tractor remotely, except for starting the engine and starting the pto to unload,” says Ben Voss, Raven Industries. “Once it’s been started, the combine operator can put it in gear and control the throttle and the steering to drive it across the field.”
Voss explains that the computer in the tractor uses a combination of the onboard cameras and radars plus the GPS location of the combine. The latter is automatically uploaded to the Omni Drive computer on the tractor to meet up with the combine.
The cameras, which are mounted to the front, back and both sides, combined with the radars ensure a safe journey. If any obstacle is detected, the tractor stops until the combine operator can evaluate the problem and initiate action. The system also ensures that standing crop is avoided.
Control is offered by a tablet-based interface. The user can set a field plan, establish staging locations, adjust speeds, monitor location activity and command the tractor pulling a grain cart to sync with the harvester.
“Once alongside the combine, it matches speed and maintains a specific distance, allowing the combine auger to unload,” says Voss. “When the hopper has emptied, the Omni Drive equipped tractor returns to its starting point to unload. As an extra layer of safety, the pto for the cart’s grain auger has to be activated by a person.”
After several years of beta testing on customer farms, Omni Drive is available as a kit. It can be installed on a wide range of late-model tractors, including Deere 8R Powershift and IVT series (2010 to 2020), Case IH Magnum CVT Series (2014 to 2020) and New Holland Genesis T8 CVT Series (2014 to 2020).
While the current application is for these tractors and grain carts, Raven is working with other OEMs on additional tractors and implements.
“We’re working to improve Omni Drive, its computer power and connectivity in areas with poor cellular coverage, as well as continuing to improve the cameras and their ability to recognize things,” says Voss. “We’re also looking beyond harvesting grain crops, to sugar beets, potatoes and vegetable crops.”
One customer request that Raven is getting is for a less complex version that works with a driver in the tractor cab, automating some functions, but not all.
“Farmers want to be able to hire people, even without experience, to monitor them and to correct them if needed,” explains Voss.
“Then, when they get to the combine, the combine operator takes over and syncs the tractor and grain cart with the combine.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Raven Industries, 205 E. 6th St., Sioux Falls, S. Dak. 57104 (ph 605-336-2750; www.ravenprecision.com).
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