New Holland NHDrive autonomous T4.110F vineyard tractor ready for pilot project deployment at E. & J. Gallo Winery
New Holland Agriculture is partnering with E. & J. Gallo Winery, the largest family-owned winery in the world, in a pilot project testing its NHDrive autonomous technology applied to T4.110F vineyard tractors. This collaborative pilot program is focused on gathering agronomic and operator feedback on the use of this technology in everyday vineyard activities, with the ultimate objective of delivering autonomous solutions that are driven by the real-world requirements of winegrowers.
The pilot program is the latest step in the New Holland Autonomous Vehicle Program and its exploration of the various applications that can benefit the most from this technology.
The brand unveiled its NHDrive autonomous solution in 2016 at the Farm Progress Show. Developed by CNH Industrial in collaboration with its long-standing technology provider Autonomous Solutions Incorporated, ASI, a Utah-based company that is the industry leader in off-road autonomous solutions, the New Holland NHDrive autonomous tractor is an unmanned vehicle that is fully autonomous and can be monitored and controlled via a desktop computer or via a portable tablet interface.
A path-plotting screen shows the tractor’s progress, another shows its live camera feed, providing the user with up to four real time views (two front and two rear). A further screen enables monitoring and modification of key machine and implement parameters such as engine speed, fuel levels and implement settings, including seeding rate or coulter downforce. The route to the field can also be planned, should this involve private roads or tracks.
The New Holland NHDrive tractor makes full use of the advanced PLM (Precision Land Management) technology for precision farming. The NHDrive tractor follows optimized in-field paths, which are automatically generated by the software, after having taken into account the size and shape of the field, any pre-existing obstacles and the width of the implement to be used. Furthermore, it will be fully compatible with the full suite of PLM solutions.
In the future this concept will be able to utilise previously collected yield data for the variable application of inputs and to carry out operations with maximum precision, year after year.
With a combination of radar, LiDAR and RGB cameras, the NHDrive is able to detect a wide range of in-field obstacles. If an obstacle is detected, the tractor sends a message to the interactive interface and the person responsible for the farming operations will decide if and how the tractor can avoid or bypass the obstacle. It is possible that the cab will be completely removed in future autonomous tractors.
To date, New Holland has previewed the technology on the T7 Heavy Duty and T8 tractor series to illustrate possible row crop applications. The new pilot program with the T4.110F demonstrates that New Holland’s autonomous solution is applicable to the brand’s entire offering of tractors, from high horsepower row crop all the way through to its specialty ranges.