If you’re going to build autonomous driving units to replace farm machinery, why not incorporate as many bells and whistles as you can?
That’s what DOT Technology Corp. is doing in a new partnership with Raven Industries Inc. Both precision technology companies are combining their respective products to enhance the effectiveness of the DOT Power Platform.
The DOT Power Platform is a U-shaped vehicle that fits around “DOT-ready” equipment, or machinery that fits the platform’s specific schematic. The platform drives itself and any attached implement, such as a seeder or sprayer, through a combination of GPS technology and associated precision computer systems – which Raven is providing.
Rick Pattison, president of the Canadian company developing the platform for DOT, says farmers using the DOT platform begin by generating a field map with satellite imagery, or by driving around a field’s perimeter and impediments such as ponds and trees. That map is then downloaded to the machine’s computer system before beginning its rounds in the field – whether it be spraying, fertilising, planting, and so on. “The farmer has to sign off on all field maps,” says Pattison. “There are both computer and mechanical safety measures included […] If a truck is parked somewhere it’s not supposed to be, the machine will stop.”
According to the official press release from Raven Industries Inc., the partnership with DOT Technology Corp. is the first Raven effort at marrying its precision agriculture technologies with autonomous farming systems. The DOT Power Platform will include steering, guidance, and propulsion systems developed by Raven.
Norbert Beaujot, president of DOT and SeedMaster – an affiliated Canadian agricultural equipment company – says in the release that Raven’s leadership in “steering, guidance, propulsion and application controls perfectly compliment DOT’s field path planning, user control experience, machine safety, remote communications software development and facilitates ISOBUS compatible implements.”
The press release also says Raven’s line of sprayer-specific technologies could be a source of future partnerships in autonomous farming. More specifically, it identifies Hawkeye – a system featuring individually controlled sprayer nozzles – the Raven Rate Control Module – an input-control computer system – AutoBoom – a automatic boom height control system – and Sidekick Pro Direct Injection – a hands-free chemical mixing augmentation for sprayers – as being ideally suited for DOT and other agricultural automations.
Read also: 5 tools for intuitive, successful spraying
The initial cost for the Raven-driven DOT Power Platform unit is CAN$ 300,000, though Mr Pattison says that number may change as the product continues to develop.