Driving a tractor may be different than driving a car, but both vehicles and their users can benefit from autonomy. Apex.AI today announced that AGCO is adding capabilities to its Fendt Xaver concept vehicle. AGCO will incorporate the Apex.OS software development kit, or SDK, into its autonomous farming robot.
“We are leveraging our success in the automotive and autonomous driving industry and applying it to areas that have similar functional safety needs, such as agricultural, industrial, mining and construction,” stated Jan Becker, co-founder and CEO of Apex.AI. “Apex.OS allows the software architecture to be modular, scalable, and safe, enabling customers to transition their R&D projects to commercial-ready products in record time.”
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Apex.AI said it is developing certified and scalable software for mobility systems. The company's flagship product is Apex.OS, a meta-operating system that it claimed enables faster software development for autonomous vehicles. It said its SDK targets two main customer groups: the OEMs that need to integrate artificial intelligence with the entire vehicle, and the self-driving car developers who can implement safety-critical applications with ease and reliability.
Apex.AI attains safety, speed
Interest in autonomous vehicles is increasing in agriculture, but developing a safe system is a complex and time-consuming task. Apex.AI said it is helping customers reduce the complexity of software-defined machines with Apex.OS, which achieved the highest level of automotive software safety under ISO 26262 ASIL-D last year.
By bridging the gap between research and development and production-quality systems, the company said users of Apex.OS can overcome real-time and reliability software challenges at a record pace. Apex.OS is based on the open-source Robot Operating System (ROS).
Apex.AI received a strategic investment from Daimler Truck AG last month after raising $56.5 million in Series B funding in December 2021.
AGCO adds autonomy to concept
Founded in 1990, AGCO is a global designer, manufacturer, and distributor of farming machinery and precision agriculture technology. Its portfolio includes brands like Challenger, Fendt, GSI, Massey Ferguson, Precision Planting, and Valtra.
Powered by Fuse smart farming systems, AGCO said its full line of equipment and services help farmers sustainably feed our world. The Duluth, Ga.-based company had net sales of approximately $11.1 billion in 2021.
AGCO developed the Fendt Xaver award-winning autonomous robot concept as part of a research project. Fendt Xaver uses 90% less energy than conventional machines because of its lightweight electric design, which produces zero emissions, noted the company.
AGCO has used Apex.OS to develop a software stack for Xaver based on automotive industry standards, extending its real-time autonomous functions. A cloud-connected fleet of robots is controlled through an app and provides real-time data from each unit, including its location, status, and diagnostics, said Apex.AI.
Fendt Xaver can plant seeds on farms 24 hours a day with centimeter precision, thanks to the Apex.OS software, the companies said.
Engineers swiftly add self-driving capabilities
Apex.AI said it has enabled AGCO's engineering team to integrate several autonomous driving components into the Fendt Xaver in a tight timeframe.
They include lidar object detection, as well as collision checking and planning using the state-of-the-art framework and developer tools that come with Apex.OS. This technical partnership expands an existing relationship between the two companies. In December, AGCO announced a strategic investment in Apex.AI.
“Apex.OS is a foundational software framework and development kit for rapidly developing advanced autonomous capabilities,” said Christian Kelber, director of engineering at AGCO. “The technology has helped AGCO shorten R&D timelines of our smart agricultural solutions and for the future of highly automated robots. Coming from the automotive industry, Apex.AI enables us to implement safety-critical applications from autonomous driving that can be deployed across our range of solutions globally.”
Email Sign Up
Get news, papers, media and research delivered
Stay up-to-date with news and resources you need to do your job.
Research industry trends, compare companies and get market intelligence every week with Robotics 24/7.
Subscribe to our robotics user email newsletter and we'll keep you informed and up-to-date.