Case IH introduces autonomous field applicator
By Chad Elmore30 August 2022
Case IH, Raven Industries collaborate on driverless spreading solution
Case IH and Raven Industries have introduced what it called the agriculture industry’s first autonomous spreader: the Case IH Trident 5550 applicator with Raven Autonomy. Unveiled at Farm Progress Show 2022 in Boone, Iowa, the autonomous equipment is intended help solve labor challenges and increase productivity on their operations.
“This is a significant milestone in our accelerated product development efforts between Case IH and Raven, highlighting our intense collaboration and robust product innovation following CNH Industrial’s acquisition of Raven in late 2021,” said Scott Harris, Case IH global brand president.
The Case IH Trident 5550 applicator with Raven Autonomy allows for one or more driverless machines in the field without an operator present in the cab, providing the flexibility of full control in or out of the cab. It combines proven driverless technology with an agronomically designed spreading platform for a flexible autonomous solution. The technology stack is powered by guidance and steering, propulsion control, perception, and path planning software developed by Raven.
“The core of today’s ag tech is rooted in Raven’s customer-centric approach: simplifying farming processes to gain tremendous efficiencies,” said Eric Shuman, Raven general manager. “This integrated solution empowers customers to make their operations even more efficient, encouraging them to thoughtfully adopt increasing levels of automation and autonomy.”
From a mobile device, operators can plan and complete an entire field operation based on mapped field boundaries. The Raven Autonomy perception system, through a series of advanced cameras and radar system, is constantly sensing a 360-degree environment around the machine for obstacles and motion initiation while operating. With artificial intelligence, Raven’s perception controller processes the continuous stream of images, which interprets and detects obstacles. The remote operator can view the cameras through the mobile device at any time.
If an obstacle is detected, the company said the machine will stop and an alert will pop up on the mobile device. From there, the operator can evaluate the situation and determine the next course of action. A variety of machine tasks and functions can be viewed remotely through the mobile device, including but not limited to fuel level, Diesel Exhaust Fluid level, speed, revolutions per minute (rpm), bin-level status, Universal Terminal information and diagnostic trouble codes.
“The Raven Autonomy perception system provides an advanced, reliable solution for autonomous operation and is tailored specifically for the spreading application with a self-propelled machine,” Shuman said.
The innovation comes as a result of ongoing research following the Case IH autonomous concept vehicle launch in 2016 about the desire for and priority of autonomous technologies. Findings concluded that spreading is among the most utilized autonomous tasks that customers would adopt.
The autonomous solution is the first proof point in the joint collaboration between ag equipment manufacturer Case IH and ag tech company Raven Industries, since CNH Industrial acquired Raven in late 2021.
The Case IH Trident 5550 applicator with Raven Autonomy allows for one or more driverless machines in the field without an operator present in the cab, providing the flexibility of full control inside or outside the cab. By operating at a constant speed and with precision, Case IH said the autonomous applicator provides the ultimate spreading consistency — with no human error — and allows for repeatable performance with sub-inch accuracy.
“The Case IH Trident 5550 applicator with Raven Autonomy allows us to do more work in tight time frames, run our operation efficiently and combat operator fatigue — it’s a huge benefit,” said Brady Fahlman, owner/operator of Fahlman Acres in Holdfast, Saskatchewan, Canada. “Autonomous equipment can perform a consistent job each time, which is very important to me, as we’ve built our farm’s reputation on being flawless and doing high-quality work.”
Raven continues to showcase its commitment to growing ag tech through its Sensing and Perception Program, which focuses on understanding the diversity of data sets for growing its artificial intelligence. This program has expanded to Scottsdale, Ariz., providing the engineering team with direct access to two local testing sites and the opportunity for more rapid integration and testing capabilities.
Case IH said the Trident 5550 applicator with Raven Autonomy will be operating in the North American market with limited availability in 2023.
“This is the first of many integrations that automate the established iron platforms of Case IH as we continue to craft a fully autonomous crop production cycle,” Harris said.