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Garford’s Robo-pilot for row-crop tractor guidance

An alternative to GNSS satellite-based guidance for tractors working in row crops has been developed from a precision hoeing system to further increase accuracy and reduce operator fatigue when carrying out row-crop operations.

The Robo-pilot from British manufacturer Garford Farm Machinery links the high definition Gigabit Ethernet camera and image analysis software used with the company’s Robocrop weeding hoes to a tractor’s steering system.

Image analysis

Mounted on the front of the tractor, the camera views the crop ahead and image analysis identifies the centre of the crop row foliage; it can also guide a rear-mounted Robocrop hoe at the same time, all with a claimed accuracy of just 8 mm (0.3 in).

Row crop imaging and analysis technology developed for precision hoe guidance has been adapted by Garford Farm Machinery to also guide the tractor for reduced operator fatigue and increased accuracy. Photos: Garford
Row crop imaging and analysis technology developed for precision hoe guidance has been adapted by Garford Farm Machinery to also guide the tractor for reduced operator fatigue and increased accuracy. Photos: Garford

Reduces operator fatigue

This combination provides the high-level accuracy needed for auto tractor guidance in row crops to make hoeing and similar operations less tiring for the operator and to allow work to continue at night or in daytime conditions of very poor visibility.

Hydrostatic or wheel steering

Components for the Robo-pilot system, which starts at UK prices from £13,500, include the camera and mounting bracket, a steering angle sensor, and a GPS speed sensor, plus a new control valve with auto cut out flow sensor to operate the tractor’s hydrostatic steering, or a steering wheel actuator.

Mounted on the front of the tractor, the Gigabit Ethernet camera images the crop ahead.
Mounted on the front of the tractor, the Gigabit Ethernet camera images the crop ahead.

In the cab, Garford’s Robocrop 4-quick touch! console gives the operator a view of the crop ahead, with icons used on the touch-screen display for setting up and adjusting the system.

Camera capacity

The console has capacity for up to 6 cameras in total, so wide working implements such as the trailed Eliminator precision hoe and triple bed InRow active hoe – which takes out weeds between precision-sown plants as well as between the rows – can be guided along with the tractor.

The cab-mounted Robocrop 4-quick touch! console analyses the camera image to identify the crop row centreline and gives the operator a visual representation in addition to steering the tractor automatically.
The cab-mounted Robocrop 4-quick touch! console analyses the camera image to identify the crop row centreline and gives the operator a visual representation in addition to steering the tractor automatically.

Product summary

Company: Garford Farm Machinery

Name: Robo-pilot

Type: Tractor auto guidance

Key feature: High definition camera and image analysis identifies crop row centreline with claimed 8 mm (0.3 in) accuracy; reduces operator fatigue, allows working in poor visibility and at night

More info: www.garford.com

Peter Hill

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