Roomba Goes Rural – Autonomous Ag Equipment

Oct 11, 2022

Look Ma, no hands: In the ag equipment market, the future is autonomous. Like Babe Ruth calling his shot, manufacturers are putting out their estimates for their fully autonomous equipment to hit production lines.

For John Deere, that’s 2030—which means 8 years to swing for the fences.

🎵 Whoa, we’re halfway there: Automation is no new thing for farmers. Many tractors, combines, and sprayers boast impressive GPS systems with miniscule margins of error.

However, FULLY autonomous (no people involved) equipment is a new challenge. Most current systems require the operator in the cab.

Earlier this year, John Deere revealed the new 8R model at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The machine is piloted by artificial intelligence, six pairs of stereo cameras, and a powerful neural network to classify what those cameras “see.”

🎵 Whoa, living on a sprayer: Meanwhile, AGCO (makers of Massey Ferguson and Fendt) are taking a different direction. They’re looking to own the retrofit marketplace—bringing automation to farmers’ existing fleets.

Instead of having to upgrade an entire fleet of equipment, farmers can “add on” the tech they want.

Soundbite: “We’re at a stage we call supervised autonomy, where we still have someone in the cab of the machine. The buzz is around fully autonomous operations, but where farmers are willing to pay for automation is feature by feature.” – Seth Crawford, senior vice president and general manager of AGCO’s precision agriculture and digital division.