When will drivers vacate the cab?

More than 350 autonomous combines harvested 400,000 acres of Russian crop in 2020, bringing in 720,000 tonnes of grain. Equipping so many New Holland, Deere, Claas and Russian combines with the Cognitive Agro Pilot proved that big-acre autonomous field machinery has finally moved beyond the prototype stage. Cognitive Agro Pilot is a joint project developed by Moscow-based Sberbank and Cognitive Technologies group.  |  Cognitive Agro Pilot photo

At a price of US$10,000 there may be some prairie producers chomping at the bit to install a Cognitive Agro Pilot this year

Every prairie farmer who’s given even a passing thought to the idea of autonomous tractors has questioned whether it’s possible, or even desirable, to remove the driver from the cab.

Even if the machine has the capability to be fully autonomous, the safety factor remains the biggest argument for keeping a driver in the cab in some sort of scaled-down operation. The other factor is that an operator will always be necessary to manage all vital functions in ag implements like drills, sprayers and especially combines.

Needless to say, proponents of automated farm implements point to large fleets of driverless tractors working in straight lines in Florida and California orchards and vineyards. The Seedmaster/Raven DOT has many people wishing that full machine autonomy was just over the hill.

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But it might be over a really big hill, says Cognitive Agro Pilot chief executive officer Olga Uskova.

“Technologically, we are very close. Full autonomy for agricultural machinery is a matter of two or three years.

“However, it will take much longer for the transformation of the whole agro-industry. First, autonomy will change the appearance of the machine itself. The cabin will disappear. The problem of controlling technological processes with the use of (artificial intelligence) must be solved.

“Secondly, the whole model of the agricultural industry will change. The model of machinery outsourcing will dominate, since it will be much more profitable economically. This means the whole process will take 15 to 20 years.”

The Cognative Agro Pilot camera translates everything it sees into digital form and relays that data to the main computer which is driving the combine. Agro Pilot takes immediate action to avoid accidents and pitfalls. | Cognitive Agro Pilot photo

She says her company is expanding the types of machinery that can use Cognitive Agro Pilot system. It will go on tractors this year and autonomous sprayers in 2022.

“In 2021, we plan to start sales in Canada, and with engineering support through a network of dealerships.

“Canada is one of the main players in smart farming. And in terms of climate and crops Canada is close to Russia, so we are confident about the quality and efficient operation of our system in Canadian fields.”

For further information visit en.cognitivepilot.com.

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