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A review of the state of the art in agricultural automation. Part II: On-farm agricultural communications and connectivity

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

Citation:  2018 ASABE Annual International Meeting  1801590.(doi:10.13031/aim.201801590)
Authors:   J. Alex Thomasson, Craig P. Baillie, Diogenes L. Antille, Cheryl L. McCarthy, Craig R. Lobsey
Keywords:   Cloud-based farm management platforms, In-field communication, Leader-follower technologies, Multi-robot systems, Sensor fusion, Telematics.

Abstract. Farming has recently experienced increasing automation, and further development is likely to include systems of multiple robots. Such systems will require development in machine-to-machine communication, telematics and infield communication, and data infrastructure for more sophisticated autonomy and decision support. Machine-to-machine communication technologies involve direct radio links between vehicles and are used to improve logistics and efficiency of multiple vehicle operation. Additionally, this type of communication enables the sharing of coverage maps and guidance lines to coordinate operations such as seeding, nutrient application and spraying, and grain unloading during harvest. Within machine-to-machine communication there are two major groupings: leader-follower technologies, and multi-robot systems. Within the multi-robot systems grouping are three sub-groupings: multi-robot interaction, multi-robot guidance, and control architecture. A number of telematics and infield communication solutions have been developed by tractor manufacturers, but it is unclear how open these communication platforms are and how well multiple systems are able to interact. Recent emergence of cloud-based farm management platforms (e.g., OnFarm®), which aim to integrate data from multiple sensors, vehicles, weather, and other sources across multiple manufacturers, and also to include decision support systems, could provide a more versatile data infrastructure in the future. This paper reviews and discusses the current state of communication systems, including patents, and the required improvements for universal commercial viability.

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