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Unveiled last year at the Farm Progress Show in the United States, the New Holland NHDrive concept autonomous tractor is a driverless machine, which can perform a wide range of farming tasks day and night. The Australian market is well known for its early adoption of innovation so it is natural that this technology would be showcased throughout Australia during peak field day season.

New Holland New Zealand Operations Manager, Brett Stiven said, “We are excited to showcase this exciting new concept to the Australian market, and make it accessible to a large audience”.

Bringing the tractor to Agquip, Henty, Yorke Peninsula and Elmore Field Days will for part of a roadshow celebrating 100 years of tractors for New Holland.

“We are eager to get the tractor in front of as many people as possible to not only showcase the technology, but provide an insight into the brands focus for the future as part of our commitment to sustainability and efficiency”, said Brett.

The tractor has the capacity to reach the field autonomously via private on-farm tracks, working together with other autonomous or traditional operator controlled machines and courtesy of the cab New Holland’s NHDrive concept autonomous tractor can still be driven, ensuring maximum flexibility for the operator.

The T8 tractor looks like any other standard tractor. But as attendee’s at the Australian field days this year will see the tractor offers incredible operational capacities. Visitors to the New Holland stand will get a glimpse into the future of farming, one that could feature fully autonomous machinery: something, which could redefine the agriculture of tomorrow.

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.

Brett added, “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. This enables farmers to access tractor and implement data, wherever they are, from different locations, whilst checking fields from the comfort of their ute, tending livestock or whilst at home, and always whenever they need. This facilitates right-time decision making to enhance operational efficiency and productivity. Furthermore, farmers will maintain full control and ownership of their data”.

  A path-plotting screen shows the tractor’s progress, while 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.

Able to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the NHDrive tractor helps to reduce the risks associated with human error as it follows predetermined and optimised plans for all activities. It is able to reach higher levels of productivity and efficiency than traditional methods. The NHDrive can make full use of the periods of favourable weather for farming operations by working day and night.

In the future, the NHDrive tractor will be able to completely automate grain handling during the harvest when equipped with a trailer, including unloading, transport and offloading activities.

The NHDrive concept tractor is equipped with a cab that is completely identical to that of a standard T8. This means that it can also be used for those operations where complete autonomy is not yet possible, such as front end loader work and high speed road transport.

With regards to getting around the farm, the NHDrive tractor can travel on pre-mapped private paths. Simply "tell it" where to go and what it has to do once it has reached its destination via private tracks, and the tractor will get to work, either individually or in a convoy.

The New Holland NHDrive tractor makes full use of the advanced PLM (Precision Land Management) technology for precision farming. This Open - Connected - Smart – Supported technology is easy-to-use, always accessible to all users and is continuously supported by New Holland specialists.

The NHDrive tractor follows optimised 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. The results are increased operating efficiency and the ability to make the most of short operating windows.

The NHDrive tractor is able to work alongside other autonomous machines and can also work in tandem with machines driven by an operator.

Thanks to a combination of radar, LiDAR (range finding lasers) 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 conceivable, that in the future the complete tractor range as well as other agricultural equipment could be equipped with the NHDrive technology. Furthermore it is possible that the cab will be completely removed in future autonomous tractors. 

The NHDrive concept autonomous tractor represents the first and very important step towards a new model of responsible farming management on a global level. At New Holland Agriculture we have made farming innovation our main goal for more than 120 years and are proud to be an active and driving force in this important change. Stop in to the New Holland stand at this years Australian field days to see the NHDrive concept autonomous tractor on display.

New Holland is imported in New Zealand by C B Norwood Distributors Ltd.

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