AGCO/Fendt is developing the next generation of field robots as part of a strategic research project. The new series of Xaver sowing robots differs from the last two studies, in more than just appearance. The inner workings, the ‘seed units’, are also completely new.
Automation and autonomy are hot topics when it comes to sustainable farming technology. As such, the Research & Advanced Engineering department of the agricultural engineering manufacturer, AGCO/Fendt, has been working on strategic future topics like swarm technology and robotics since 2017. What’s more, ecological benefits such as low ground pressure and energy consumption, zero noise pollution, leaks or emissions, are playing an increasingly important role in a modern agriculture. Tiresome, manual work that still calls for a number of labourers working on the field, will be automated in the future. This eliminates the burden of monotonous work and paves the way for more sustainably produced foods.
After extensive field testing, the strategic research project Fendt Xaver has seen the entire robotics system further developed – including Smart Farming aspects. Not only do these new robots look different from both previous models, but after extensive field testing, the entire system has been enhanced – including in the field of smart farming.
The latest generation of the Fendt Xaver comes with an embedded solution developed by the AGCO Group, a seed unit from Precision Planting.
“Through Precision Planting, we have been able to draw on the AGCO Group’s agronomy expertise and proven technology to produce our seed sowing robots,” says Dr. Benno Pichlmaier, Director Global Technology & Innovation. “We were able to adapt the modules of the first Xaver generation and combine them with the new seed unit. Proven concepts have been combined with the innovative robotics design, which has led to a new, integrated system.”
The vSet® solution quickly spaces the seed with utmost precision. With the help of an electrically driven control system, individual grains are deposited with centimetre-accuracy at a pre-defined distance in the row. The grains are dropped in the furrow by a flexible firmer. We are looking forward to installing Smart Firmer® from Precision Planting in the future – with sensors measuring soil moisture, temperature, humus content and plant residues. This varies the seed depth and seed strength according to the local conditions.
Thanks to the now three-wheeled concept, the last wheel not only drives the robot, but also acts as a gauge wheel. When it passes over, it compacts the soil gently to the side and above the seed, closing the soil around the seed grain to ensure the moisture supply and initiate germination.
The latest generation of the field robot is also equipped with the VarioGuide lane guidance system, which controls the robot with centimetre-accuracy. Fendt Xaver is also integrated into the FendtONE platform and can be managed together with the rest of the machine fleet.
This allows a seamless exchange of field data, including waylines, between tractor and robot as well as between robot and database, making light work of creating job orders.
The seed sowing robots use the Fendt Xaver Cloud to receive commands and return their status reports. The system is web-based and managed independently in the Xaver app. This means that the farmer or contractor can access the entire fleet or individual robots in the field on a tablet or from the office PC. The app itself can also be opened from the FendtONE portal. There is no additional user login. The design and user interface of the Xaver app meet FendtONE standards, so it is intuitive even for first-time users.