Claas, AgXeed and Amazone co-operate in independent autonomy

12-09-2023 | |
The so-called 3A – ADVANCED AUTOMATION & AUTONOMY visualized by the initiators, in which (autonomous) software for robots, agricultural implements and tractors is integrated.
The so-called 3A – ADVANCED AUTOMATION & AUTONOMY visualized by the initiators, in which (autonomous) software for robots, agricultural implements and tractors is integrated.

Three agricultural machinery manufacturers, Claas, AgXeed, and Amazone, are collaborating to establish the world’s first manufacturer-independent platform for autonomous technology, known as ‘3A – ADVANCED AUTOMATION & AUTONOMY’.

The initiative, according to its founders, aims to accelerate the development, standardization, and market introduction of partially and fully autonomous combinations of tractors and implements.

Shortage of skilled workers drives automation

The manufacturers believe that the agricultural industry, and consequently the market, is ripe for autonomous technology. The global shortage of skilled agricultural workers is driving the adoption of automated and autonomous technologies. It’s important to note that these technologies are not intended to replace human workers, as emphasized by the German autonomous alliance. Instead, they are designed to support workers in heavy tasks, particularly during peak periods such as harvest seasons.

Collaboration between manufacturers crucial

Achieving further automation in agricultural processes requires closer collaboration between tractor and transport vehicle manufacturers and agricultural implement manufacturers. Claas, AgXeed, and Amazone have recognized this need and are pooling their expertise to bring technologies to practical use more quickly. This is primarily in their own interest to compete with major global players like John Deere and CNH, which are working on their own autonomous platforms where tractors and implements communicate closely for several years.

Brand independence is the goal

However, the German alliance aims to go a step further by creating a kind of open-source autonomy platform for agriculture where other brands and manufacturers can join, including makers of field robots. “The 3A network is developing market-ready technology that can be used for autonomous field robots and tractors with implements. This means that farmers have the freedom to combine different brands and machines for optimized agricultural processes,” say the manufacturers, Claas, AgXeed, and Amazone.

Integration facilitates programming and setup

Current work orders (route plans) for tractors and implements often include A-B lines or A-B contours and route optimization, along with any task-maps for activities like fertilization. The 3A initiative aims to take this a step further by enabling pre-planning for process optimization. This pre-planning includes the starting and ending points of the application, headland operations, and Variable Rate Control (VRC) of the implement. What makes this pre-planning particularly noteworthy, according to the creators, is that it incorporates real machine parameters, such as hitch settings and hydraulic functions for adjusting working depth and intensity. This allows dynamic adjustments to the machine combination to be programmed before execution, with the desired work results in mind. Current automation approaches have primarily focused on user-friendliness: Up until now, current automation approaches in soil cultivation have primarily focused on user-friendliness.

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Geert Hekkert Chief editor of Future Farming