Unmanned tractors demonstrate power of technology

A FENDT press event provided a chance to see the manufacturer’s driverless, Guide Connect system in action.

A pair of 900s demonstrated, using Lemken Karat 9 cultivators, how one ‘manned’ tractor could lead another  ‘unmanned’ tractor.

Guide Connect is the virtual connection of two tractors based on Fendt’s Vario Guide guidance system.

The first tractor is operated by a driver, which communicates via radio with a second, driverless tractor carrying out the same workflow.

The second tractor can either follow the track of the first, or an off-set predetermined track.

Set-up of the tractors – headland management for example – has to be done on and for each tractor. At the headland, both tractors lift and lower the implements at the same location.

When the manned tractor needs to drive around an obstacle, the guided tractor can be briefly de-coupled from the lead machine. To drive around obstacles in the path of the guided tractor, the operator can temporarily route the guided vehicle along the lead tractor’s path.

The system has been equipped with multiple safety features. An encoded wireless connection ensures only the two defined tractors can communicate with each other.

If another Guide Connect system is nearby, Fendt says there is no danger the two systems will interfere with each other.

An emergency stop feature will also kick in if the wireless signal is broken.

The guided tractor not only accepts commands, but also reports about error states such as low fuel or other important information, including engine and ground speed.

The system will be available at the end of this year in Germany on 900 series tractors only. Acceptance into the UK and many other markets will be determined by public liability and public perception, says the manufacturer.

Mr Shelton says: “Guide Connect will more likely be used as a development platform for guidance technology, which could be used on combines and SPFH to guide the tractor and trailer, for example.”

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