Yanmar will take a brief grab at fame when it becomes the first tractor maker to go full retail with its autonomous tractor series on 1 April 2021 in Japan
Yanmar is still hedging its bet each way as these models have been designed to be capable of full or partially autonomous work. Yanmar engineers have retained a full cab, just in case the remote operator becomes too frustrated with proceedings.
And there is also the option for two tractors in the paddock at the same time, with one tractor under driver control who in turn controls the autonomous model running nearby.
In theory operating two tractors at the same time.
The Yanmar autonomous tractor range will include four models on release. The YT488A, YT498A, YT4104A and YT5113A.
All will run a vertical four cylinder water-cooled common rail direct injection diesel engine.
Maximum engine output measured at 2500rpm for the YT488A is 64.7kw ((88hp), for the YT498A 72.1kw(98hp), for the YT4104A 76.5kW (104hp) and the YT5113A can develop 83.1kw (113hp).
Yanmar has chosen a three-speed Hydro Mechanical Transmission that runs at 0.15 to 33.0kph in manual, while the range for the autonomous mode is 0.5 to 10kph
Lift capacity on the rear three-point hitch is 3300kg.
If you are wondering about a price range, set yourself for an introduction into the world of fantasy transition, with a purchase price starting point without taxes from US$104,800 to US$162,330.
No one ever said that our entry into robot farming would be cheaper than current equivalents.
And another point worth noting, even in Japan where the market is primed for an autonomous farming entry point, no model is permitted to work unsupervised.
Yanmar’s robotic agriculture technology has been under development since 2015. And it has only made it to the showroom with its robot tractor due to a breakthrough with its communication signal.
Previously the Yanmar robot tractor needed its own ground base station for correction signals along with signals from the GNSS satellite, adding considerable cost and less than ideal delivery.
Yanmar engineers fell upon a new delivery system that receives a multi-frequency signal allowing the tractor to receive local reference point positioning data to determine its position through a VRS (Virtual Reference Station).
This means it is no longer necessary to be bogged down with a Yanmar base station, and the system can be used anywhere mobile signal is available.
Even with all this technical advancement there is still a degree of operator intervention in the so-called driverless concept.
For now, an operator needs to board the robot tractor and circle the perimeter of the paddock to complete the registration of the work data and start operation.
For the next step, the registered paddock data can be called up to start work. The operator can set the work pattern and start/stop/resume work remotely using a specially designed tablet application.
The Yamar robot tractor is remotely adjustable and controllable using a specially designed tablet application.
If the implements are ISOBUS compatible, it will be possible to control them with the robot tractor. Just turn on the setting that allows communication between implement and tractor.
The areas in front of and behind the tractor are monitored and can be visually checked by operators using the control tablet for safety. And a laser sensor and ultrasound sensor detect obstacles for greater safety.
Whether in straight line or turning operation, a control algorithm ensures that the robot tractor will stop safely before
It turns out that Japan is the ideal location for autonomous farm machinery to succeed.
While traditionally the country was known for small farm allotments with highly intensive activity from single land users, old age has caught up to many and smaller farms have been consolidated into larger holdings.
Too much for a sole operator, who at the same time is facing the ongoing worldwide shortage of experienced help, that makes many see the future in autonomous farm machines rising to meet these challenges.
Yanmar has upgraded its autonomous tractor series to this launch stage through its use of a multi-frequency antenna, that is said to offer a highly stable connection.
Coupled with more accurate positioning control, it appears Yanmar is confident it has all the safety bases covered and is releasing a market-ready efficient autonomous tractor.
“Yanmar’s auto tractor and robot tractor have found favour in the farming community for their efficiency, reliability and accuracy,” said Nagamori Masuda, Yanmar Agribusiness president.
“With these new models, Yanmar offers farmers even more value with more robust positioning technology that allows even greater flexibility in the field.”
Yanmar engineers appear more confident following their decision to adapt a multi-frequency antenna to receive signals at three different frequencies from the GNSS satellite.
It appears the multi-frequency antenna can ensure safe driving even if the signal is interrupted on one of the frequencies. In addition, the positioning time is reduced by 75% and this allows the tractor to start working as soon as in position on arrival at the paddock.
Through extensive testing is has been shown that receiving both signal from the GNSS satellite and a correction from a base station, it was possible to achieve precision of 0.0254mm (±1.1 inch)
The system Yanmar has adopted receives a multi-frequency signal allowing the tractor to receive local reference point positioning data to determine its position via VRS.
This means it is no longer necessary to install a Yanmar base station and the system can be used anywhere mobile signal is available.
Because of the greatly increased positioning stability it allows a remote operator to undertake any kind of work pattern.
Because the positioning of the tractor is highly robust, it is possible to carry out precision work at lower speeds as low 0.5 kph (0.3 mph).
Once though inaccessible tasks for a robot tractor such as combined tilling and ridging can now be carried out by the Yanmar autonomous tractor.
Further world markets will begin receiving delivery of the Yanmar autonomous tractor range later in 2021.