During a press conference at CES 2022, John Deere revealed a fully autonomous
tractor that's ready for large-scale production. The machine combines Deere's 8R
tractor, TruSet-enabled chisel plow, GPS guidance system, and new advanced
technologies. The autonomous tractor will be available to farmers later this
The autonomous tractor serves a specific purpose: feeding the world. The global
population is expected to grow from about 8 billion to nearly 10 billion people
by 2050, increasing the global food demand by 50 percent. Furthermore, farmers
must feed this growing population with less available land and skilled labor,
and work through the variables inherent in farming like changing weather
conditions and climate, variations in soil quality and the presence of weeds and
pests. All of these factors impact a farmer's ability to farm during the most
critical times of the year.
In many ways agriculture has been driving the technology industry forward for
more than a century.
From overcoming sticky Midwest soil with an innovative steel plow 185 years ago,
to launching its first two tractors in 1918, John Deere has helped lead the way.
"You fast forward a century from those first tractors and you'll find some of
the most advanced robotic machines are being used on the farm to feed the
world," said Jahmy Hindman, Chief Technology Officer at John Deere. "If you
visit a farm, you'll see as much technology in the field as you will in Silicon
Hindman, speaking at CES 2022 in Las Vegas where John Deere revealed an
autonomous tractor, told attendees today's technology is paved with advancements
from the past, adding "advanced technology and innovation has always been on the
He highlighted the company's many advancements in technology, including
precision farming and self-steering machines that use GPS. Innovations that are
now more than 20 years old.
"This precise location-sensing technology (already) enables farmers to place
seeds, spread nutrients and harvest their crops without having to touch the
steering wheel," he noted. "Without this self-driving technology, farming is
incredibly exhausting mentally and physically. GPS technology allows farmers to
spend their time in the cab of a tractor looking at the real-time data they are
collecting during the job they are doing and making adjustments."
Until recently, agriculture had always been about doing more with more, Hindman
noted, more horsepower, more inputs and more acres. But the digital era is
changing all of that, he added, and it's coming at a critical time, as labor
shortages are making it difficult for farmers to find people to help do the
Driverless tractors can help farmers overcome that obstacle and more with their
precision technology, making it possible to take on one of the world's biggest
challenges—feeding our growing population.
"The world's population is expected to grow from about 8 billion to nearly 10
billion people by 2050, increasing the global food demand by 50 percent,"
Hindman noted. "Farmers must feed this growing world population, and it's our
job at John Deere to help them. The future of Agriculture starts now!"
The autonomous tractor has six pairs of stereo cameras, which enables
360-degree obstacle detection and the calculation of distance.
Images captured by the cameras are passed through a deep neural network that
classifies each pixel in approximately 100 milliseconds and determines if the
machine continues to move or stops, depending on if an obstacle is detected.
The autonomous tractor is also continuously checking its position relative to a
geofence, ensuring it is operating where it is supposed to, and is within less
than an inch of accuracy.
To use the autonomous tractor, farmers only need to transport the machine to a
field and configure it for autonomous operation. Using John Deere Operations
Center Mobile, they can swipe from left to right to start the machine. While the
machine is working the farmer can leave the field to focus on other tasks, while
monitoring the machine's status from their mobile device.
John Deere Operations Center Mobile provides access to live video, images, data
and metrics, and allows a farmer to adjust speed, depth and more. In the event
of any job quality anomalies or machine health issues, farmers will be notified
remotely and can make adjustments to optimize the performance of the machine.