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 autonomous retrofit kit 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 safety features do you offer?
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. In short, the iQuus system is capable of mowing, mulching, spraying, weed control, root cutting and other implement-based applications. 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. For road transportation a road switch is installed to ensure maximum safety.
How many units do you currently have in the field and where?
Currently there are 7 systems active in orchards/vineyard and 2 research vehicles at our facility. A batch of 15 Fendt units is currently constructed and the 2022 backlog is 77 active requests.
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 are 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, The Netherlands|
|Product name||iQuus Autonomy|
|Suitable brands and tractor/vehicle models||Any type of tractor used for repetitive tasks|
|Technical requirements for tractor/vehicle||Power steering, preferable a CVT transmission|
|Is the solution Isobus compatible?||Yes, implement control and task control|
|Possible minimum and maximum driving speeds||0,01 km/h 12 km/h|
|Main components autonomous retrofit kit||iQuus GUI (tablet), LiDAR, emergency buttons and bumper for collision avoidance. iQuus VDM (Vehicle Depending Module) for vehicle implementation which has different IO’s per vehicle.|
|Operator or driver nearby required||No|
|Price||€45.000 – €65.000, for sale and lease per hour|
|Countries the product is for sale/rent in 2022||Australia, Africa, Europe, USA|