Raven's driverless tractor technology debuts in USA

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Driverless tractor technology took a big step forward last week after the debut of a new concept at an agricultural event in the United States.

Raven Industries showcased its OMNiDRIVE technology to crowds at the Farm Progress Show in Illinois, which the company describes as an "aftermarket technology solution that turns existing tractors into driverless machines".

The technology allowed for a Case IH Magnum tractor to be controlled without an operator and it pulled a grain cart and was directed to sync with a harvester during the demonstration.

Raven Industries, a United States-based precision agriculture company, was bought earlier this year by CNH Industrial for a US$2.1 billion enterprise value.

CNH Industrial is the parent company of Case IH, plus other well-known manufacturers such as New Holland and Iveco.

Case IH’s Australia and New Zealand general manager Pete McCann says the technology is the next step in an ongoing process for the company.

"This is just the latest example of the rapid advancement in ag technology, with driverless operations the next frontier and first showcased by Case IH in its autonomous concept vehicle (ACV), which visited our shores in 2017," he says.

"It’s all about finding solutions to the challenges our farmers face every day, providing improved efficiencies and productivity at every level of ag businesses."

Raven Industries debuted its driverless technology on a Case IH Magnum tractor in the United States

When the purchase of Raven Industries was announced earlier this year, CNH Industrial chief executive officer Scott Wine said precision agriculture and autonomy were "critical components" of the company’s strategy to help farmers increase their productivity.

"Raven has been a pioneer in precision agriculture for decades, and their deep product experience, customer driven software expertise and engineering acumen offer a significant boost to our capabilities," he said.

"The combination of Raven’s technologies and CNH Industrial’s strong current and new product portfolio will provide our customers with novel, connected technologies, allowing them to be more productive and efficient."

Raven says its OMNiDRIVE technology has been proven to operate safely among people, animals, and other equipment.

It can also recognise unharvested crops so these are not disturbed.

It features multiple cameras and radars and is controlled by a tablet, which is compatible with iPad, Android and Windows.

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