GPX Solutions’ iQuus autonomous system has been developed to integrate within current technological developments like Isobus, task control (TC) and the high-tech tractor controls. The system is ready to go full Isobus this year to ensure maximum multi tractor brand usage.
What is the most striking according to the supplier?
We have designed the autonomous solution as an aftermarket add-on package and included a Raven CR7 terminal with a Raven RS1 receiver to ensure maximum usage of the whole package. So next to autonomous driving it is possible to use the full Isobus functionality and guided driving when the operator is present. With Isobus UT (Universal Terminal), TC (Task Control) and in the future TIM (Tractor Implement Management), our system will be the perfect companion in the modern tractors.
How does the robot tractor with your system navigate and plan its work and paths?
We are not using the ‘teach-and-playback’ principle as previously known. Our focus is to re-drive possible paths which have been proven by the operator. Our goal was to develop an autonomous tool for growers with row crops like vineyards, orchards, hop fields and tree nurseries. Many of these special crops have row and drive patterns that will exist for multiple years, sometimes even up to 15 years! After an operator has captured/taught a routing, the iQuus GUi gives all the freedom for the operator to automate the tractor’s functionalities.
Routings can be ‘combined’ to a new routing. For example when an operator has plot A, plot B, plot C and plot D. These routings can be combined via transportation routes or just by combining the starting- and ending coordinates.
We are working on a path-planning tool based on drone images. This service should be available in 2022 and will enhance a quicker way of path building through the field.
Within our field of operations we see new demanding circumstances asking for hybrid vehicle control based on satellite localisation and vison/LIDAR. This will be our new feature for the future to drive under trees based on vision and to use satellites for tractor functions.
How are implements operated and controlled by your system?
Our way of being in control is to communicate via Isobus so the iQuus system knows the implement is working correctly. The parameters necessary to function correctly will be a consideration off the implement manufacturer. To make operations safer and easier, we’ve designed a connector which extends the safety network and has a function as dead man’s switch to check if the implement is still attached to the tractor.
What are the safety features?
Reading of the internal safety functions like fluid temperatures, fluid levels and other things. Modern tractors will generate a notification to the operator when something is wrong. This is our input for tractor malfunctions.
For the surroundings and obstacles and people detection we use LiDAR based obstacle detection in the direction of movement, emergency stops around the vehicle and remote control to start and stop the vehicle.
Furthermore we offer amongst others external control and safety for loss of power input from the battery or generator and external control of an emergency handbrake. When our iQuus system thinks it is not able to control the vehicle good enough for the required speed, it will adjust the operating speed.
What kind of work can your system do autonomously?
Our system can automate all tractor functionalities without compromising on the tractor’s usability. We rely on the implement manufacturers to have enough control at their machines to ensure autonomous driving when the implement is controllable by Isobus.
Can you switch off autonomous mode and continue as a manned tractor for difficult work/circumstances?
Yes, operators can switch between autonomous and manual mode at any time.
How many systems are currently in the field and where?
Our company was founded in 2017 and the first prototype was released in 2018. In 2019 we decided to redesign our complete hardware- and software infrastructure to ensure the quality our industry demands.
So far four Fendt tractors have been made autonomous that are all working in the Netherlands. 2021 will be our first commercial year and we are working on a dealer network to ensure customer service and support.
What is the cost price per ha compared with a manned tractor?
This is unknown to us because the tractor usage per company/field varies greatly. In our region in The Netherlands, hourly costs of good drivers is somewhere between €25 and €35 per hour. Our vision is that one good driver or operator can be deployed for other tasks or to control multiple tractors at once. In a worst-case scenario, one operator can be saved with annually 500 operational hours.
|Company name and nationality||GPX Solutions B.V. – Dutch|
|Product name||iQuus Autonomy|
|Suitable brands and tractor/vehicle models||Any tractor with CVT/Hydrostatic/Vario|
|Technical requirements for tractor/vehicle||Preferably Canbus controlled|
|Preferably Canbus controlled||Yes, via third-party|
|Possible minimum and maximum driving speeds||0,05 km/h – 12 km/h|
|Main components autonomous retrofit kit||GNSS-receiver, GUI, LIDAR, Safety bumper|
|Operator or driver nearby required||No|
|Price||€45,000-€66,500 / US$ 54,600-80,700|
|Countries the product is for sale/rent in 2021||Europe|