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An Assessment of the Control and Safety Needs of Autonomous Agricultural Vehicles and Implement Systems on Farm Property

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Pp. 422-431 in Automation Technology for Off-Road Equipment, Proceedings of the July 26-27, 2002 Conference (Chicago, Illinois, USA)  701P0502.(doi:10.13031/2013.10032)
Authors:   W. S. Reid
Keywords:   Tractor, Automatic control, Autonomous, Safety, Control, GPS, Fiber Optic Gyroscope, Drive by wire, Guide by wire, Fuzzy logic, Field, Farmstead

The progress that has been made so far in all aspects of tractor, implement control is hard to believe and yet the completely autonomous tractor, implement system that can work on contiguous farm property is still a long way from reality. This is primarily related to safety, control and cost concerns. This paper highlights some of these concerns, as well as, possible solutions. The aim should be to develop systems that are acceptable from safety and control aspects first, cost reduction can be tackled at a later stage. Safety of the tractor, implement system with respect to mobile and immobile animate and inanimate objects is paramount, anywhere on the farmstead. Each location, in and around the yard, from yard to field and in the field represent specific problems with respect to control and safety and these are highlighted.

The requirements for complete autonomous operation of a farm tractor implement system within the whole farm environment are analyzed and assessed with respect to safety and control requirements. It is shown that the problems of developing completely safe autonomous vehicle, implement systems are specific to each class of equipment, each farm with its geology, topography, pedology, climate and each management system within the farm. The objective is to ensure that the system operates safely wherever it is expected to perform on the farm, without causing damage to animate or inanimate objects. The various sensor and control systems required, are highlighted together with their advantages, disadvantages and relative costs.

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