Raven Industries Inc. debuted its Driverless Tillage Solution and Driver Assist Harvest Solution at CNH Industrial N.V.'s Tech Day last week in Phoenix. The systems are designed to support multiple stages of the cash-crop production cycle and make autonomy more accessible to farmers across seasons.
“As our customers continue to face rising costs, labor constraints, decreasing land availability, and short operational windows, our purpose continues to drive us to develop autonomous solutions that help them solve those challenges,” said Eric Shuman, general manager of Raven Industries.
The Sioux Falls, S.D.-based company said it is developing self-driving tractors, wireless connections between the cab and the office, and systems that protect the environment with controlled outputs. Raven is a subsidiary of CNH Industrial, a global equipment and services company specializing in agriculture and construction.
Driverless Tillage digs up data
The Raven Autonomy Driverless Tillage Solution pairs with Case IH tractor and tillage platforms to provide farmers rich data insights into their operations. Users can then plan and execute precise tillage jobs with consistent agronomic results, said the company.
“The Driverless Tillage Solution goes beyond vehicle automation and object-detection capabilities to provide best-in-class soil management outcomes,” said Raven Industries. The system can provide full implement control, seedbed sensing, and agronomic prescriptions to optimize soil quality, it said.
The company claimed that the Raven Autonomy technology stack allows farmers to reallocate labor resources to maximize operational efficiency and productivity.
Driver Assist Harvest Solution lowers barriers to entry
The Raven Autonomy Driver Assist Harvest Solution addresses the market’s limited availability of skilled labor by decreasing the level of training needed to operate grain carts, said Raven Industries.
The technology stack synchronizes the path and speed of the tractor during an “unload on the go” operation using a precise GPS signal. This can decrease grain spillage from miscommunication or imperfect unload coordination and reduce operator stress, the company said.
“Ultimately, the Driver Assist Harvest Solution simplifies the complexity of harvest operation, giving operators peace of mind with the push of a couple of buttons,” according to Raven.
Raven Industries collaborates with CNH
Raven Industries said it is developing more driver-assist and autonomous systems and that its “holistic solution ensures that all settings are automatically accounted for, including propulsion, guidance, and functional controls.”
“Driver Assist technology will allow anyone to operate like a pro while maintaining discretionary control,” it added.
Raven is continuing to integrate its driver-assist and autonomous technologies with products from other CNH Industrial units, such as the Case IH Trident 5550 applicator with Raven Autonomy.
“CNH Industrial allows us to develop autonomy faster and on more platforms,” said John Preheim, vice president of product development at Raven Industries. “We have access to the teams, technology and platforms needed to accelerate this development.
“Overall, collaborating across a customer-oriented organization with a worldwide reach enables us to provide autonomy solutions that solve global agricultural challenges [in the] long term,” he said.
CNH unveils electric, autonomous tractor
Also at its Tech Day, CNH Industrial showed the New Holland T4 Electric Power. The Basildon, U.K.-based multinational claimed that it was the industry’s “first all-electric, light utility tractor prototype with autonomous features.”
“The T4 Electric Power is the ideal solution for lower-horsepower operations,” stated Marc Kermisch, chief digital and information officer at CNH Industrial. “It is suited to mixed-farm, livestock, municipality, orchard, and specialty applications. We know our customers are eager to adopt this type of product, so it makes perfect sense for us to continue our Ag electrification journey with this platform.”
CNH teams in Burr Ridge, Ill., and Modena, Italy, collaborated with strategic partner Monarch Tractor. The electric tractor prototype had New Holland Agriculture branding, while the commercial model will also extend to CNH's Case IH brand.
The company touted the first-generation, battery electric light vehicle's power of 120hp, full-day endurance, and performance compared with diesel models. It also said the new tractor is quiet, environmentally sustainable, and precise.
“What makes this tractor a world-first are its autonomous features and automated capabilities,” said CNH. “Together, these technologies provide leading solutions that support operators of all skill levels.”
The T4 Electric Power’s roof houses sensors, cameras, and control units. Farmers can remotely activate the tractor via a smartphone app.
“Shadow Follow Me” mode lets operators synchronize machines to work together, CNH said. A 360-degree perception system detects and avoids obstacles, while telematics and auto guidance keep all functions in check for operators.
Fleet Management lets the farm manager assign tasks to each piece of equipment, said CNH. Implement recognition ensures that the tractor seamlessly links up with required attachments.
Also, offboard digital services let farmers run the tractor from anywhere, at any time, while monitoring its performance and battery level, asserted CNH.
Baler automation arrives for New Holland, Case IH equipment
CNH Industrial said its baler automation for New Holland large square balers feature new technology that uses lidar to scan the windrow in front of the tractor for density, volume, and direction. The tractor and baler then use this input to automatically control steering, forward speed, and baler settings for accurate crop feeding.
This system can optimize the bale shape, increase productivity, protect operator comfort, and reduce fuel consumption, said the company, which recently acquired a 10% stake in smart implement firm Stout Industrial Technology and opened an electrification center in Michigan. Case IH will also offer the baling automation feature.
“We’re on the road to full autonomy,” said Parag Garg, chief digital product officer at CNH. “We focus on delivering an autonomous tech stack that scales across all production cycles for the cash crop segment: crop preparation, planting/seeding, crop care, harvest, hay, and forage.”
“Focusing on automation and autonomy is not taking farmers out of farming; it’s making their machines more productive with functional automation,” he added. “Our focus is to make the Precision Technology on our equipment so smart, that the customer can focus on the farm and let CNH Industrial take care of the rest.”