Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.
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45 unmanned systems inside April/May 2017 Ground Vehicles There are many factors driving the need for automated ground vehicles in the agriculture industry, Torrie said. The increase in minimum wage that's led to higher labor costs for all pay levels, the difficulty in finding workers with the right skill set and the potential for decreased maintenance costs, improved performance and enhanced productivity are among them. Farmers are also starting to look to smaller unmanned ground vehicles, Torrie said. When labor is no longer involved, it makes sense to use smaller vehicles and more of them. They can save money in fuel, service and down time, and they're easier to transport. They're also able to deploy fewer units. If humans operated five tractors in the past, running the automat- ed vehicles optimally might make it possible to only use four. Like with UAS, there are challenges to im- plementing driverless ground vehicles. These vehicles must have reliable automation, Torrie said, and be able to perform all the functions a human usually helps with. They also need to be able to communicate, to see through differ- ent weather conditions, such as rain and snow, and to determine when people are nearby, even through foliage. Position is also important, as $100,000 plus: 18 % $65,000: 14 % $35,000: 42 % $10,000: 27 % What incremental cost would you expect to pay for a fully autonomous piece of ag equipment (per unit)? is being able to service these vehicles that are becoming increasingly complex. And finally, there's liability issues, which Torrie said is the biggest challenge. "Farmers are disabling safety shields and hurting themselves and then the OEMs are settling out of court to avoid the bad public- ity," Torrie said. "Millions and millions of dol- lars are being spent on this, and so as we've gone to move to market, we've had those kind of questions—like this is how many millions of dollars we expect to spend in lawsuits, can your profits sustain the product despite those kinds of expected expenses?" Manufacturers are working now to meet all these challenges to make it easier for farmers to reap the benefits unmanned ground sys- tems provide. The Need for Precision Precise PNT is vital for autonomous solutions, whether they're air or ground based. NovAtel has been a leader in this area for years, with customer demands changing over time, Schilling said. Today, they're looking for ro- bust, reliable positioning solutions. NovAtel has a long history in the precision agriculture industry, and is now seeing cus- tomers delivering services based on accuracy, including 3-D and 2-D map processing, veg- etation indexing, plant height, canopy cover and spraying applications. "A lot of these integrators had started out with single frequency L1 or L1 RTK and just found that they were generally not as reliable or robust enough for the solutions they were trying to provide," Schilling said. "The mis- alignment or loss of positon equals increased time and cost for these integrators. We're using combinations of the higher accuracy solutions to make better use of the data being collected by other sensors on the vehicle. As the breadth of these applications becomes greater, the need for more reliability and robustness is growing to meet the needs of these new applications." WATCH THE WEBINAR Want to learn more? Register at https:// attendee.gotowebinar.com/ register/67756132435898 91075 to watch the webinar.