[Technology Corner] John Deere Reveals Autonomous 8R Tractor

John Deere unveiled a fully autonomous tractor at CES 2022 earlier this month. The company says the machine is ready for large-scale production and will be available to farmers in time for fall tillage.

The 40,000-pound machine combines Deere’s 8R tractor, a TruSet-enabled chisel plow, a GPS guidance system and other new technologies to till fields independently.

Six pairs of stereo cameras provide 360 degree obstacle detection.

And the images captured by the cameras run through a neural network that classifies each pixel in milliseconds. It determines whether the machine will continue moving or stop depending on whether an obstacle is detected.

To use the machine, the farmer must transport it to the field and work autonomously using the John Deere Operations Center app on a phone or tablet.

The farmer can start and stop the machine, monitor its operation and analyze field data via the app.

A Deere spokesman said Ag device intelligence that the 8R autonomous tractor will be delivered to US customers in time for fall tillage.

However, a report by Bloomberg News says the company expects slow rollout, with between 10 and 50 autonomous tractors made available to farmers in 2022.

As of this report, Deere has not released pricing for the autonomous 8R. Investment analysts say Deere intends to sell it as a subscription service, with details still being worked out — a decision they say could become a multibillion-dollar revenue stream for Deere.