“More autonomous performance with less sensor costs”

Photo: Trimble
Photo: Trimble

Trimble and VayaVision aim to bring advanced perception technology to the agriculture market. Together, the companies will optimise path planning, obstacle avoidance and situational awareness for autonomous vehicles. We asked Trimble 6 questions about this new partnership.

Recently, Trimble and VayaVision announced an alliance that is to bring advanced perception technology to the agriculture market. Together, Trimble and VayaVision expect to provide an innovative hardware and software portfolio, improving autonomous machine performance.

Integration of VayaVision’s raw data sensor fusion and perception software platform with Trimble’s existing machine control technology is to enable intelligent automation in complex work environments.

We talked to Ullrich Vollath, Trimble Fellow, and Guillermo Perez-Iturbe, Marketing Director, Trimble Ag, to learn more about this initiative. What can farmers expect from this collaboration between Trimble and VayaVision?

Why has Trimble partnered with VayaVision? Doesn’t Trimble itself have the technology for autonomous systems that can be mounted on tractors and self-propelled machines in agriculture?

“Trimble has invested significantly into building autonomy perception solutions internally, and will continue to do so. Whenever we recognise that the path to product can be significantly accelerated with third-party solutions, we take advantage of that via licensing or partnerships. VayaVision has developed a unique solution for raw data sensor fusion, combining the 3D accuracy of sparser LiDAR with the density and color information of cameras. This provides Trimble with the opportunity to achieve more performance with less sensor costs.”

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Ullrich Vollath, Trimble Fellow: "VayaVision has developed a unique solution for raw data sensor fusion, combining the 3D accuracy of sparser LiDAR with the density and color information of cameras. This provides Trimble with the opportunity to achieve more performance with less sensor costs." - Photo: Trimble

Ullrich Vollath, Trimble Fellow: “VayaVision has developed a unique solution for raw data sensor fusion, combining the 3D accuracy of sparser LiDAR with the density and color information of cameras. This provides Trimble with the opportunity to achieve more performance with less sensor costs.” – Photo: Trimble

In simple terms, what is advanced perception technology?

“Advanced perception technology addresses more than perception components, looking at the system that provides the full stack for autonomy products, from machine control to high-level workflow optimisation. Advanced in this context also means leading edge technology that is productised quickly.”

Is it no problem for large tractor manufacturers to install your autonomous steering systems retrofits on their tractors or self-propelled machines?

“Trimble has a more than 20 years track record of providing machine OEMs and after market customers with factory-fit and retro-fit automation solutions. We’re working closely with machine manufacturers to integrate our automation systems into existing machines.”

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Trimble is working closely with machine manufacturers to integrate their automation systems into existing machines. - Photo: Trimble

Trimble is working closely with machine manufacturers to integrate their automation systems into existing machines. – Photo: Trimble

The automotive industry is at the forefront of autonomous technology. Do you borrow certain technologies from the automotive industry?

“The automotive industry has already invested billions of dollars into autonomous driving. These investments can be leveraged to a certain extend for Trimble autonomous solutions. While perception software solutions require significant adaptation to off-road environments like farming and heavy construction, we see the developments of mass-produced perception sensors very positive. Though automotive environmental specifications do not always fulfill the more stringent requirements of off-road machine operation, we see a very positive effect on the cost of some hardware components, even when modified for the rugged environment of off-road applications.”

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Guillermo Perez-Iturbe, Marketing Director, Trimble Ag: "Cameras and LIDAR technology will bring better information to the existing Trimble onboard solution." - Photo: Trimble

Guillermo Perez-Iturbe, Marketing Director, Trimble Ag: “Cameras and LIDAR technology will bring better information to the existing Trimble onboard solution.” – Photo: Trimble

What can farmers and contractors expect from the collaboration with VayaVision in the coming years?

“The integration of this sensor technology brings several benefits to customers and contractors. Cameras and LIDAR technology will bring better information to the existing Trimble onboard solution. It will augment auto steering experience by bringing better awareness of the working environment to the operators, creating detailed maps of the world around the vehicles improving the safety of the operation at task.”

Is the sale of autonomous steering systems (retrofit kits) limited by legislation and/or insurance issues?

“Trimble follows the compliance of the regional laws regarding autonomy solutions.”

Hekkert
Geert Hekkert Chief editor of Future Farming