Making a case for the future of agricultural contracting

Case IH Autonomous Concept Vehicle (ACV).
Case IH Autonomous Concept Vehicle (ACV).

It has the potential to revolutionise agriculture and since its unveiling last year has created a buzz around the world - and now Case IH's Autonomous Concept Vehicle (ACV) is coming to Australia for the first time.

The driverless concept vehicle, a cabless tractor that can operate autonomously with a wide range of field implements, made its debut at the United State's biggest agricultural event, Farm Progress, last year, with Australia's equivalent event, AgQuip, preparing to host the machine when it opens its gates at Gunnedah from August 22-24.

"The ACV is a glimpse into the future for agriculture and proof of the impact technology is having on our industry. No one could have imagined a driverless tractor 10 years ago, but the ACV shows us that one day they could be a reality.

It's the perfect example of the possibilities before us and the fact the next big revolution in agriculture could be just around the corner," Case IH Australia New Zealand marketing manager Pete McCann said.

"To be able to bring the ACV to Australia and show it to AgQuip visitors is very exciting for all of the Case IH team.

"Initially created to demonstrate the available technology and initiate customer feedback on the need for future autonomous products, the ACV's Australian visit tops off a huge year for Case IH."

The ACV will be on display for the three days of the event, with an opportunity for visitors to get up close to the vehicle and learn more about its capabilities from Case IH representatives making the trip from the US.

Rob Zemenchik, global product manager for Advanced Farming Systems (AFS), said autonomous tractor operations potentially offered producers more control, monitoring capabilities and cost savings through greater efficiencies with tasks like tillage, planting, spraying and harvesting.

Mr Zemenchik said an operator could potentially supervise the activities of multiple machines via a tablet or desktop computer while completing other tasks, and a number of autonomous tractors could work together on the one task or on multiple tasks simultaneously.

The ACV's onboard system automatically accounts for implement widths and plots the most efficient paths depending on terrain, obstructions and other machines in the vicinity.

Mr McCann said the chance to view the ACV at this year's AgQuip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and urged people to make the trip, whether they were directly involved in agriculture or not.

"You don't have to come from the land or own a tractor to appreciate just how special this concept vehicle is. Autonomous operations are being considered across many industries and the Case IH ACV is one of the finest indications of what we may see in the not-too-distant future," he said.

Dozens of Case IH dealers from around New Zealand are already making the trip to Australia in a fortnight to see the ACV, as well as participating in the celebrations for Case IH's 175th anniversary.

- Te Awamutu Courier

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