Horsch shows second robot, two more to follow

Photo: Still from video by Horsch
Photo: Still from video by Horsch

It looks like the autonomous developments at Horsch are going according to plan. They just showed their second robot, another seeder and there’s two more robots to come.

Just like nearly exactly a year ago with their Horsch Roboter autonomous carrier, Horsch’s CEO Philipp Horsch again chose Twitter to premiere their second autonomous development with a short video. This second autonomous carrier is called RO24G referring to it being a robot (RO) with a 24 m seed drill.

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While the Roboter was a relatively small power unit with two Claas Terra-Trac tracks towing an 18 m Maestro drill, the RO24G is a much larger carrier carrying the 24 m wide seed drill between the two front and rear wheels. On top of the carrier there’s two seed tanks and a power unit. The wheels seem to be able to turn at least 90 degrees making it possible – in theory at least – to drive it from one field to another by road.

It is likely that the RO24G works with Trimble components because of the collaboration both companies have. The Horsch Roboter is also equipped with Trimble technology.

Horsch says the RO24G will be shipped to Brazil for intensive testing. Philipp Horsch’s Twitter timeline shows he was there in October 2021, possibly visiting potential customers for their autonomous concepts. He also explained that safety regulations are still too tight yet for fully autonomous use and that one person has to stay on the field within 600 m distance to watch (so-called line of sight operation). “To solve this safety topic, we have to go a long way yet”, he concluded at that time.

Horsch autonomous master plan

Late April 2021, Philipp Horsch announced that two more autonomous concepts would follow by the end of the year. One of these is the recently revealed RO24G carrier but the third – most likely a self-propelled autonomous crop care unit – is yet to be spotted. Horsch: “Our approach is to get three totally different systems / machine sizes in the field as soon as possible and learn fast by using them.”

The developments are part of the company’s autonomous master plan Future Farming was able to get hold of. The plan contains four ongoing autonomy projects including the (1) Roboter power unit with 18 m Maestro drill (Q2-2021), (2) RO24G self-propelled 24 m seed drill (Q4-2021), (3) > 3 m self-propelled autonomous crop care unit (Q2-2022) and a self-propelled autonomous sprayer (Q2-2023). This means that the third concept, the self-propelled autonomous crop care unit, should soon be ready as well.

In December 2021, the Horsch Roboter was awarded the Best Field Robot Concept Award in the multipurpose category. A team of expert judges from across the world chose their concept as most promising multipurpose robot concept.

Bye bye tractor?

In the eighties of the previous century, Horsch developed and marketed the Terra-Trac three-wheel carrier vehicle that was used to carry an – in hindsight – small seed drill. The carrier was also deployed as a self-propelled slurry tanker but the development and marketing of the Terra-Trac was stopped in 2004. At about the same time, 2003, another German family company developed a self-propelled power harrow drill combination prototype. This so-called Lemken Brillant based on a TerraGator traction unit however never made it into production.

Now, 20 years later, it seems like the time is ripe for farm machinery manufacturers taking matters into their own hand by developing autonomous carrier vehicles for which they don’t need tractors anymore to make them work…

René Koerhuis Precision Farming Specialist