Fendt GuideConnect, in which two tractors act as a unit, where one vehicle is unmanned, received a Gold Medal from the German Agricultural Society (DLG).
With Fendt GuideConnect, two tractors are linked together to act as one unit. A guided, unmanned tractor follows a guidance vehicle when performing the same operating procedure, turning at the headlands and avoiding obstacles. Fendt GuideConnect not only permits large working widths, but also highly flexible applications. Farmers can optimize the efficiency of their operations, since the tractors can be separated at any time and used independently.
Operators use the Vario-Terminal to define which tractor will be the guiding vehicle and which one will follow. In addition, the following distance and the clearance to the side between the two tractors can be set. Precise RTK-GPS satellite positioning and communication between the vehicles via an encoded wireless connection ensure accurate positioning. At the headlands, the guided tractor first allows the track of the guidance vehicle, and then changes back over to its own track. Implements are automatically raised or lowered at the right position. When the manned tractor needs to drive around an obstacle, the guided tractor duo reduces its speed and then continues along the pre-set path when finished. To drive around obstacles in the path of the guided vehicle, the operator can temporarily route the guided vehicle along his own path.
Naturally, a decisive factor for Fendt GuideConnect is safety. In general, the operator of the guiding vehicle carries the responsibility for both vehicles. However, the system has also been equipped with multi-level safety concept. The guided vehicle not only accepts commands, it also reports error stats to the guidance vehicle such as: low fuel level and engine speed. In a later stage, the guided tractor will become more autonomous and, for example, be equipped with an environment sensor system. The basis for GuideConnect was developed in a research project, funded by the German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE), in cooperation with the project partners geo-konzept GmbH and the MOBIMA Institute of Mobile Machines at the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology.