Ghost in the machine. A John Deere 7930 tractor rumbles across a canola field, buggy in tow, and eases alongside a rolling combine to collect grain. Speed, distance, and timing are synced in a farming machinery version of a harvest mating dance. Except this is no ordinary two-step. The box is empty. There is no wheelman in the tractor cab.
I’ve been waiting for someone to do something like this for a while now. I figured it was only a matter of time before someone out there came up with a system like this.
Now there are self-drive systems out there for high-end tractors, but they’re complex and expensive. Mr. Reimer here did it for around $8,000. Granted, it certainly isn’t as complex as what is needed to make a self-driving car, but it’s still useful and pretty darned neat. His system doesn’t have collision avoidance systems, radar, video or the other things necessary for automobiles, but the tractor is only used in large fields where there is little or no danger of it hitting something. For this application it works quite well indeed.
There are self-driving tractors out there, but the option is, as I mentioned, expensive, and it’s only available on new, high-end (and expensive) tractors. A system like this could be adapted for use on just about any tractor, no matter how old.