Tuesday, 20 Sep, 2011 Technology

Latest Invention: Self-Steering Robotic Tractor


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An uneven field is one of the major problems that a group of researchers managed to overcome with their latest invention.

Scientists from Belgium's Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) and Flanders' Mechatronics Technology Centre (FMTC) say they were able to come up with a robotic autonomous tractor that can deal with an inconsistent terrain.

At first the construction might look simple, it is, in fact, very complicated to keep a tractor on track over an uneven field.

According to Erik Hostens, project engineer for FMTC, only an experience professional will be able to work in such a field. This job is rather complex, with the person having to observe the current position of the machine, and figure out a route that the tractor has to follow in order to show the highest possible level of efficiency.

In order to come up with the navigation system for the machine, researchers mounted a linear propulsion system and then equipped the tractor with a computer and a number of positional sensors like GPS.

Due to the fact that conventional navigation systems cannot be used in multi-terrain conditions, the team had to calibrate various settings for each type of terrain and allow the tractor to navigate on both hard and wet terrain.

The new steering system examines the terrain conditions and calculates the possible wheel slippage. By analyzing the type of terrain and the tractor, the system estimates the best possible speed and turning radius. All operations are made in real-time.

The first prototype is expected to be presented at the 30th Annual International Agriculture and Horticulture Days of Mechanisation that will take place in Oudenaarde, Belgium, on the 24th and 25th of September, reports Gizmag.

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