Fendt Develops Unmanned Ground Tractor – UGT?

Its not a combat vehicle or a sophisticated aerial system, however Fendt has expanded its 700 range of tractors with three models – the 714, 716 and 718. The six model line-up now ranges from 145hp to 240hp and features the newly- developed VisioPlus cab

Unmanned Tractor

European tractor giant Fendt says its GuideConnect system allows two tractors connected by satellite navigation and and radio communication to operate as one unit with the second, driverless machine replicating the tasks being performed by the leading tractor driver.

The electronics found in tractors are increasingly being used to further automate operations and processes. Automatic steering systems have now become standard. One of the directions development is now taking in this area is towards cooperating and communicating systems. Fendt has been carrying out intensive research in this area, which has led to the development of Fendt GuideConnect. In this system, two tractors are connected via satellite navigation and radio communication to form one unit, where one of the two vehicles is unmanned and performs the same working procedure as the manned vehicle.

Flexible and efficient

To meet the market demand for ever larger working widths, Fendt has taken a completely new path. With the new Fendt GuideConnect system, this demand can be met without having to accept disadvantages, such as issues with road traffic regulations. Two tractors are linked together to act as one unit. The guided, unmanned tractor follows the guiding vehicle when performing the same operating procedure, during turning manoeuvres and when avoiding obstacles. Fendt GuideConnect not only permits large working widths, but also highly flexible applications. Farmers can optimise the efficiency of their operations, since the tractors can be separated at any time and used independently.

Wireless radio communication

To begin, 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 are set. Precise RTK-GPS satellite positioning and communication between the vehicles via an encoded wireless connection provide accurate positioning

When arriving at the headland, the guided tractor remains stationary and waits until the guiding tractor has completed the turn, and then follows its path accordingly. Implements are automatically raised at the right position and then lowered into operating position after the turning manoeuvre is completed. When the manned tractor drives around an obstacle, the connected tractor duo reduces its speed and then continues along the preset 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.

Multi-level safety concept

Naturally, safety plays a decisive role for Fendt GuideConnect. In general, the operator of the guiding vehicle carries the responsibility for both vehicles. However, the system has also been equipped with a multi-level safety concept. The encoded wireless connection ensures that only the two defined tractors can communicate with each other. If another Fendt GuideConnect set-up is nearby, there is no danger that the guided vehicle will accidentally follow the other guiding vehicle. The guided vehicle itself becomes active in conditions that are critical for safety. For example, an emergency stop feature is immediately activated when satellite positioning is no longer possible or the wireless connection is interrupted or the distance between the tractors is too large or small. Then the guided tractor is immediately brought into a safe state and the engine is switched off. The guided vehicle not only accepts commands, but also reports to the guiding vehicle about error states, such as a low fuel level, or other important information, such as engine or ground speed. In a later stage, the guided tractor will receive more capabilities and, for example, will be equipped with an environment sensor system.