You are getting a preview of a Smart CAB for the first time. And we will be upfront from the outset, stop looking for a steering wheel, because there isn’t one. You simply don’t need it.
The Smart CAB will be introduced as a multifunctional cabin for all self-propelled farm vehicles with the intention from its developers to be fitted to all badges. And while the big makers may baulk at the prospect of giving up their own designs, it’s expected the volume of numbers the Smart CAB will muster will result in a price point just too irresistible to ignore.
The players behind this design include some of the most progressive international agricultural component and accessory companies such as Bosch, Grammer, Hella and Fritzmeier Systems with the aim to deliver in the near, not distant future. There are 13 companies currently invested in the project, and those with a religious bent will recognize it’s the same number that attended the “Last Supper”.
The Smart CAB is an extension of the CAB Concept Cluster platform founded in 2014. Additions to that initial design have focused on a cab specifically for self-propelled farm machines.
The modular structure of the cab ensures it is lighter than most. Its body form is made from aluminum while light hybrid steel supplies the strength for the ROPS/FOPS to pass a safety inspection.
The forward view is where the Smart CAB gains its stripes, and at this moment in time is the only cab able to offer such an uninterrupted forward vista across the work area. All due to the fact the steering wheel has been removed.
Now, of course this is puzzling. Perched up high with nothing to hang onto anymore and the ground appearing as though it is racing up quickly. And if you expect the steering wheel to be replaced by a traditional joystick – it isn’t – instead manual steering is operated from a small circular knob positioned on the armrest.
It will take some getting used to. At first it’s similar to sitting in a dentist’s chair with despair lingering close by, but thankfully it’s convenient enough to control everything through the steering knob when auto-steer is not in use.
As for the rest of the cab functions it’s a just perfect environment for the operator. Starting with the suspended Grammer seat that is climate-controlled and equipped with two multifunctional armrests on the seat to control all main functions.
The right-hand multifunctional armrest hosts a 305mm (12-inch) multitouch display for overseeing the vehicle functions and the joystick allows the control of the grain tank, the reel and attachment functions, speed, cutting system as well as autopilot.
Meanwhile the left-hand multifunctional armrest has the unique integrated mini steering wheel grip to at least give the operator some semblance of direction control.
The second 305mm (12-inch) multitouch display is fitted above the windshield in the cabin ceiling and is used to control functions such as the vehicle lighting, cabin climate control, the camera and smartphone connectivity. It can also be used to display camera images to ensure safe navigation in all working situation.
Once underway the operator can work from previously uploaded settings adjusted to particular soil or paddock conditions. Further displays show selected information or warning messages in the windscreen area without adversely affecting vehicle views.
A user interface allows communication with all implements and other machines operating across the system. While high-resolution HDR cameras provide a clear 360-degree digital image on the display. Visualizations that give the operator a unique control over the machine.
A powerful on-board computer that sits at the heart of the Smart CAB has reduced the number of cables, relays and fuses required. Its function has been approached in such a way, that it can track any problem and when a frustrating electronic module fault pops up, the troublesome issue can be diagnosed quickly and replaced without too much downtime.
From the outset you have to accept the Smart CAB is in control. And while the operator is paid some respect with an amazing vista and the most advanced seat in the hemisphere, there is also that lingering intention the cab could be devoid of mankind and still fulfill the functions the machine is assigned.